Onchocerciasis-Associated Epilepsy with Head Nodding Seizures-Nodding Syndrome: A Case Series of 15 Patients from Western Uganda, 1994.
ABSTRACT: Nodding syndrome (NS) is an encephalopathy characterized by the core symptom of epileptic head nodding seizures, affecting children at the age between 3 and 18 years in distinct areas of tropical Africa. A consistent correlation with onchocerciasis was found, but so far, the causation of NS has not been fully clarified. With a systematic analysis of features of a cohort of epilepsy patients examined in the Itwara onchocerciasis focus of western Uganda in 1994, we provide evidence that NS actually occurred in this area at this time, and we demonstrate a correlation between prevalence of NS and that of onchocerciasis in different villages. Following the elimination of onchocerciasis by community-directed treatment with ivermectin and ground larviciding, our data provide a baseline to examine the question whether NS will disappear once its putative cause has been removed.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Around 2007, a nodding syndrome (NS) epidemic appeared in onchocerciasis-endemic districts of northern Uganda, where ivermectin mass distribution had never been implemented. This study evaluated the effect of community-directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI) and ground larviciding of rivers initiated after 2009 and 2012 respectively, on the epidemiology of NS and other forms of epilepsy (OFE) in some districts of northern Uganda. METHODS:In 2012, a population-based community survey of NS/epilepsy was carried out by the Ugandan Ministry of Health in Kitgum and Pader districts. In August 2017, we conducted a new survey in selected villages of these districts and compared our findings with the 2012 data. In addition, two villages in Moyo district (where CDTI was ongoing since 1993) served as comparative onchocerciasis-endemic sites in which larviciding had never been implemented. The comparison between 2012 and 2017 prevalence and cumulative incidence were done using the Fisher's and Pearson's Chi-square tests at 95% level of significance. RESULTS:A total of 2138 individuals in 390 households were interviewed. In the selected villages of Kitgum and Pader, there was no significant decrease in prevalence of NS and OFE between 2012 and 2017. However, the cumulative incidence of all forms of epilepsy decreased from 1165 to 130 per 100?000 persons per year (P?=?0.002); that of NS decreased from 490 to 43 per 100?000 persons per year (P?=?0.037); and for OFE from 675 to 87 per 100?000 persons per year (P?=?0.024). The median age of affected persons (NS and OFE) shifted from 13.5 (IQR: 11.0-15.0) years in 2012 to 18.0 (IQR: 15.0-20.3) years in 2017; P?<? 0.001. The age-standardized prevalence of OFE in Moyo in 2017 was 4.6%, similar to 4.5% in Kitgum and Pader. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings support the growing evidence of a relationship between infection by Onchocerca volvulus and some types of childhood epilepsy, and suggest that a combination of bi-annual mass distribution of ivermectin and ground larviciding of rivers is an effective strategy to prevent NS and OFE in onchocerciasis-hyperendemic areas.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Nodding syndrome (NS) is a devastating epileptic illness of unknown aetiology mainly affecting children 5-15 years of age. Head nodding distinguishes NS from other forms of epilepsy. Other manifestations of the illness include mental and physical growth retardation. Many children die as a result of falling in fires or drowning. Recently, it was shown that NS is only one of the phenotypic presentations of onchocerciasis associated epilepsy (OAE). Despite the strong epidemiological association between epilepsy and onchocerciasis, the causal mechanism is unknown. After implementation of bi-annual community directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTi) and larviciding of rivers in northern Uganda, new cases of NS have ceased, while new cases continue to emerge in South Sudanese onchocerciasis-endemic areas with an interrupted CDTi programme. This study is designed to evaluate the potential effects of bi-annual CDTi on reducing the incidence of NS/OAE in onchocerciasis-endemic areas in South Sudan. METHODS:A pre-intervention door-to-door population-based household survey will be conducted in selected onchocerciasis-endemic villages in Mundri and Maridi Counties, which have a high prevalence of epilepsy. Using a validated questionnaire, the entire village will be screened by community research assistants for suspected epilepsy cases. Suspected cases will be interviewed and examined by a trained clinical officer or medical doctor who will confirm or reject the diagnosis of epilepsy. Bi-annual CDTi will be implemented in the villages and a surveillance system for epilepsy set up. By implementing an epilepsy onchocerciasis awareness campaign we expect to obtain >?90% CDTi coverage of eligible individuals. The door-to-door survey will be repeated two years after the baseline survey. The incidence of NS/OAE will be compared before and after bi-annual CDTi. DISCUSSION:Our study is the first population-based study to evaluate the effect of bi-annual CDTi to reduce the incidence of NS/OAE. If the study demonstrates such a reduction, these findings are expected to motivate communities in onchocerciasis-endemic regions to participate in CDTi, and will encourage policy makers, funders and other stakeholders to increase their efforts to eliminate onchocerciasis.
Project description:Many studies have reported an association between epilepsy, nodding syndrome (NS), and onchocerciasis (river blindness). A high prevalence of epilepsy has been noted particularly in onchocerciasis hyperendemic areas where onchocerciasis is not or insufficiently controlled with mass ivermectin distribution. There is evidence that increasing the coverage of ivermectin reduces the incidence of epilepsy, and anecdotal evidence suggests a reduction in seizure frequency in onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy (OAE) patients who receive ivermectin. Finding an alternative treatment for epilepsy in these patients will have major consequences.The goal of the study is to assess whether ivermectin treatment decreases the frequency of seizures and leads to seizure freedom in OAE patients, including patients with NS. If we are able to demonstrate such an effect, this would strengthen the argument that onchocerciasis is causing epilepsy and therefore we should increase our efforts to eliminate onchocerciasis.We will conduct a randomized clinical trial in the Democratic Republic of Congo to compare seizure freedom in onchocerciasis-infested epilepsy patients who receive immediate ivermectin treatment with delayed (after 4 months) ivermectin treatment. All participants will simultaneously receive antiepilepsy drugs (AEDs) according to local guidelines for epilepsy treatment. The primary endpoint is seizure freedom defined as no seizures during the 4 month of follow-up. Secondary endpoint is significant (>50%) seizure reduction compared to baseline seizure frequency. Reduction of seizures will be compared between ivermectin and nonivermectin arms.Start of enrollment is planned for August 2017, and we expect to have enrolled all 110 participants by December 2017. Results are expected in June 2018.If ivermectin treatment in addition to AEDs is able to lead to seizure freedom or significantly reduces seizure frequency in OAE patients, this will have major consequences for epilepsy treatment in onchocerciasis-endemic regions. Ivermectin is donated for free and in non Loa-Loa-endemic regions has negligible side effects. Reducing the burden of epilepsy will have a major impact on quality of life and socioeconomic status of families with affected members in Africa.ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03052998; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03052998 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6roFVQSG0).
Project description:Nodding Syndrome (NS), an unexplained illness characterized by spells of head bobbing, has been reported in Sudan and Tanzania, perhaps as early as 1962. Hypothesized causes include sorghum consumption, measles, and onchocerciasis infection. In 2009, a couple thousand cases were reportedly in Northern Uganda.In December 2009, we identified cases in Kitgum District. The case definition included persons who were previously developmentally normal who had nodding. Cases, further defined as 5- to 15-years-old with an additional neurological deficit, were matched to village controls to assess risk factors and test biological specimens. Logistic regression models were used to evaluate associations.Surveillance identified 224 cases; most (95%) were 5-15-years-old (range?=?2-27). Cases were reported in Uganda since 1997. The overall prevalence was 12 cases per 1,000 (range by parish?=?0·6-46). The case-control investigation (n?=?49 case/village control pairs) showed no association between NS and previously reported measles; sorghum was consumed by most subjects. Positive onchocerciasis serology [age-adjusted odds ratio (AOR1)?=?14·4 (2·7, 78·3)], exposure to munitions [AOR1?=?13·9 (1·4, 135·3)], and consumption of crushed roots [AOR1?=?5·4 (1·3, 22·1)] were more likely in cases. Vitamin B6 deficiency was present in the majority of cases (84%) and controls (75%).NS appears to be increasing in Uganda since 2000 with 2009 parish prevalence as high as 46 cases per 1,000 5- to 15-year old children. Our results found no supporting evidence for many proposed NS risk factors, revealed association with onchocerciasis, which for the first time was examined with serologic testing, and raised nutritional deficiencies and toxic exposures as possible etiologies.
Project description:BACKGROUND:High epilepsy prevalence and incidence were observed in onchocerciasis-endemic villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We investigated the clinical characteristics of onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy (OAE), and the relationship between seizure severity and microfilarial density. METHODS:In October 2017, ivermectin-naive persons with epilepsy (PWE) were recruited from onchocerciasis-endemic areas in the Logo health zone in the DRC. Additional PWE were enrolled in the Aketi health zone, where ivermectin had been distributed annually for 14 years. Past medical history, clinical characteristics and skin snips for Onchocerca volvulus detection were obtained from participants. Bivariate and multivariable analyses were used to investigate associations with microfilarial density. RESULTS:Of the 420 PWE in the Logo health zone, 392 were skin snipped (36.5% positive). Generalized motor seizures were most frequent (392 PWE, 93.3%), and nodding seizures were reported in 32 (7.6%) participants. Twelve PWE (3.1%) presented Nakalanga features. Sixty-three (44.1%) skin snip-positive PWE had a family history of epilepsy, compared to only 82 (32.9%) skin snip-negative PWE (p = 0.027). Eighty-one onchocerciasis-infected PWE were recruited in the Aketi health zone. Positive correlations between seizure frequency and microfilarial density were observed in Logo (Spearman-rho = 0.175; p<0.001) and Aketi (Spearman-rho = 0.249; p = 0.029). In the multivariable model adjusted for age, gender, and previous treatment, high seizure frequency was associated with increasing microfilarial density in Aketi (p = 0.025) but not in Logo (p = 0.148). CONCLUSION:In onchocerciasis-endemic regions in the DRC, a wide spectrum of seizures was observed. The occurrence of Nodding seizures and Nakalanga features, as well as an association between seizure severity and O. volvulus microfilarial density suggest a high OAE prevalence in the study villages. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03052998.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Worldwide, there are an estimated 50?million people affected by epilepsy. Its aetiology is manifold, and parasitic infections play an important role, specifically onchocerciasis. In onchocerciasis endemic areas, a distinctive form of epilepsy has been described as nodding syndrome, affecting children and causing nodding seizures, mental retardation and debilitating physical development. Onchocerciasis control programmes using community-directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI) are implemented in endemic countries. This study is designed to contribute to a better understanding of the linkage between the onset of epilepsy, onchocerciasis and CDTI. Comparing the epidemiological data on epilepsy and onchocerciasis from pre-CDTI and 20 years after its introduction will allow identifying a potential impact of ivermectin on the onset of epilepsy. METHODS AND ANALYSIS:The study will be conducted in the Mahenge highlands in Tanzania. Study site selection is based on an in-depth study on epilepsy in that area dating from 1989. CDTI was introduced in 1997. By a door-to-door approach, the population will be screened for epilepsy using a validated questionnaire. Suspected cases will be invited for a neurological examination for case verification. Onchocerciasis prevalence will be assessed by a rapid epidemiological assessment. As an indicator for ongoing transmission, children younger than 10 years of age will be tested for Ov16 antibodies. Ivermectin use will be assessed at household level. Epilepsy data will be analysed in comparison with the 1989 data to reveal pre-CDTI and post-CDTI prevalence and incidence. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION:The protocol has received ethical approval from the ethics committees of the University of Antwerp, Belgium, and of the National Institut of Medical Research, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The findings will be published in peer-reviewed journals, and presented to the health authorities in Tanzania, at national, regional and village level.
Project description:Nodding syndrome (NS) is an epileptic disorder occurring in children in African onchocerciasis endemic regions. Here, we describe the pathological changes in 9 individuals from northern Uganda who died with NS (n?=?5) or other forms of onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy (OAE) (n?=?4). Postmortem examinations were performed and clinical information was obtained. Formalin-fixed brain samples were stained by hematoxylin and eosin and immunohistochemistry was used to stain astrocytes (GFAP), macrophages (CD68), ubiquitin, ?-synuclein, p62, TDP-43, amyloid ?, and tau (AT8). The cerebellum showed atrophy and loss of Purkinje cells with hyperplasia of the Bergmann glia. Gliosis and features of past ventriculitis and/or meningitis were observed in all but 1 participant. CD68-positive macrophage clusters were observed in all cases in various degrees. Immunohistochemistry for amyloid ?, ?-synuclein, or TDP-43 was negative. Mild to sparse AT8-positive neurofibrillary tangle-like structures and threads were observed in 4/5 NS and 2/4 OAE cases, preferentially in the frontal and parietal cortex, thalamic- and hypothalamic regions, mesencephalon and corpus callosum. Persons who died with NS and other forms of OAE presented similar pathological changes but no generalized tauopathy, suggesting that NS and other forms of OAE are different clinical presentations of a same disease with a common etiology.
Project description:Recently, several epidemiological studies performed in Onchocerca volvulus-endemic regions have suggested that onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy (OAE) may constitute an important but neglected public health problem in many countries where onchocerciasis is still endemic.On October 12-14th 2017, the first international workshop on onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy (OAE) was held in Antwerp, Belgium. The workshop was attended by 79 participants from 20 different countries. Recent research findings strongly suggest that O. volvulus is an important contributor to epilepsy, particularly in meso- and hyperendemic areas for onchocerciasis. Infection with O. volvulus is associated with a spectrum of epileptic seizures, mainly generalised tonic-clonic seizures but also atonic neck seizures (nodding), and stunted growth. OAE is characterised by an onset of seizures between the ages of 3-18 years. Multidisciplinary working groups discussed topics such as how to 1) strengthen the evidence for an association between onchocerciasis and epilepsy, 2) determine the burden of disease caused by OAE, 3) prevent OAE, 4) improve the treatment/care for persons with OAE and affected families, 5) identify the pathophysiological mechanism of OAE, and 6) deal with misconceptions, stigma, discrimination and gender violence associated with OAE. An OAE Alliance was created to increase awareness about OAE and its public health importance, stimulate research and disseminate research findings, and create partnerships between OAE researchers, communities, advocacy groups, ministries of health, non-governmental organisations, the pharmaceutical industry and funding organizations.Although the exact pathophysiological mechanism underlying OAE remains unknown, there is increasing evidence that by controlling and eliminating onchocerciasis, OAE will also disappear. Therefore, OAE constitutes an additional argument for strengthening onchocerciasis elimination efforts. Given the high numbers of people with epilepsy in O. volvulus-endemic regions, more advocacy is urgently needed to provide anti-epileptic treatment to improve the quality of life of these individuals and their families.
Project description:In Africa, onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis (LF) are co-endemic in many areas. Current efforts to eliminate both diseases are through ivermectin-based mass drug administration (MDA). Years of ivermectin distribution for onchocerciasis may have interrupted LF transmission in certain areas. The Kédougou region, Senegal, is co-endemic for LF and onchocerciasis. Though MDA for onchocerciasis started in 1988, in 2014 albendazole had not yet been added for LF. The objective of this study was to assess in an integrated manner the LF and onchocerciasis status in the three districts of the Kédougou region after ?10 years of ivermectin-based MDA. The study employed an African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) onchocerciasis-related methodology. In the three districts, 14 villages close to three rivers that have Simulium damnosum breeding sites were surveyed. Convenience sampling of residents ?5 years old was performed. Assessment for LF antigenemia by immunochromatographic testing (ICT) was added to skin snip microscopy for onchocerciasis. Participants were also tested for antibodies against Wb123 (LF) and Ov16 (onchocerciasis) antigens. In two districts, no participants were ICT or skin snip positive. In the third district, 3.5% were ICT positive and 0.7% were skin snip positive. In all the three districts, Wb123 prevalence was 0.6%. Overall, Ov16 prevalence was 6.9%. Ov16 prevalence among children 5-9 years old in the study was 2.5%. LF antigenemia prevalence was still above treatment threshold in one district despite ?10 years of ivermectin-based MDA. The presence of Ov16 positive children suggested recent transmission of Onchocerca volvulus. This study showed the feasibility of integrated evaluation of onchocerciasis and LF but development of integrated robust methods for assessing transmission of both LF and onchocerciasis are needed to determine where MDA can be stopped safely in co-endemic areas.
Project description:In 2012, the World Health Organization set goals for the elimination of onchocerciasis transmission by 2020 in selected African countries. Epidemiological data and mathematical modelling have indicated that elimination may not be achieved with annual ivermectin distribution in all endemic foci. Complementary and alternative treatment strategies (ATS), including vector control, will be necessary. Implementation of vector control will require that the ecology and population dynamics of Simulium damnosum (sensu lato) be carefully considered.We adapted our previous SIMuliid POPulation dynamics (SIMPOP) model to explore the impact of larvicidal insecticides on S. damnosum (s.l.) biting rates in different ecological contexts and to identify how frequently and for how long vector control should be continued to sustain substantive reductions in vector biting. SIMPOP was fitted to data from large-scale aerial larviciding trials in savannah sites (Ghana) and small-scale ground larviciding trials in forest areas (Cameroon). The model was validated against independent data from Burkina Faso/Côte d'Ivoire (savannah) and Bioko (forest). Scenario analysis explored the effects of ecological and programmatic factors such as pre-control daily biting rate (DBR) and larviciding scheme design on reductions and resurgences in biting rates.The estimated efficacy of large-scale aerial larviciding in the savannah was greater than that of ground-based larviciding in the forest. Small changes in larvicidal efficacy can have large impacts on intervention success. At 93% larvicidal efficacy (a realistic value based on field trials), 10 consecutive weekly larvicidal treatments would reduce DBRs by 96% (e.g. from 400 to 16 bites/person/day). At 70% efficacy, and for 10 weekly applications, the DBR would decrease by 67% (e.g. from 400 to 132 bites/person/day). Larviciding is more likely to succeed in areas with lower water temperatures and where blackfly species have longer gonotrophic cycles.Focal vector control can reduce vector biting rates in settings where a high larvicidal efficacy can be achieved and an appropriate duration and frequency of larviciding can be ensured. Future work linking SIMPOP with onchocerciasis transmission models will permit evaluation of the impact of combined anti-vectorial and anti-parasitic interventions on accelerating elimination of the disease.