Meet Joy Milne, a woman with a peculiar sense of smell. Scientists in Scotland recently learned that she can actually sniff out people with Parkinson’s disease!
“I could always smell things other people couldn’t smell,” Milne, 65 from Perth, said. But it wasn’t until much later that she began to correlate a particular ‘musky’ odor with Parkinson’s disease. She first got a whiff when her husband Les, an anesthesiologist who worked long hours, began to emit the peculiar smell. She brushed it off as sweat, but six years later, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. “His smell changed and it seemed difficult to describe,” she said. “It wasn’t all of a sudden. It was very subtle – a musky smell. I got an occasional smell.”
Milne still didn’t know that’s what she was smelling. It wasn’t until she attended a meeting for the charity Parkinson’s UK, where she found other patients sharing the same musky scent, that she made the connection. When she mentioned this observation to a few scientists in passing, they decided to investigate.