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Risk Factors for Nodding Syndrome and Other Forms of Epilepsy in Northern Uganda: A Case-Control Study. Pathogens 2021 Nov 09;10(11)



Pubmed ID


Pubmed Central ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85119582810 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   4 Citations


Epidemiological studies suggest a link between onchocerciasis and various forms of epilepsy, including nodding syndrome (NS). The aetiopathology of onchocerciasis associated epilepsy remains unknown. This case-control study investigated potential risk factors that may lead to NS and other forms of non-nodding epilepsy (OFE) in northern Uganda. We consecutively recruited 154 persons with NS (aged between 8 and 20 years), and age-frequency matched them with 154 with OFE and 154 healthy community controls. Participants' socio-demography, medical, family, and migration histories were recorded. We tested participants for O. volvulus serum antibodies. The 154 controls were used for both OFE and NS separately to determine associations. We recruited 462 people with a median age of 15 years (IQR 14, 17); 260 (56.4%) were males. Independent risk factors associated with the development of NS were the presence of O. volvulus antibodies [aOR 8.79, 95% CI (4.15-18.65), p-value < 0.001] and preterm birth [aOR 2.54, 95% CI (1.02-6.33), p-value = 0.046]. Risk factors for developing OFE were the presence of O. volvulus antibodies [aOR 8.83, 95% CI (4.48-17.86), p-value < 0.001] and being born in the period before migration to IDP camps [aOR 4.28, 95% CI (1.20-15.15), p-value = 0.024]. In conclusion, O. volvulus seropositivity was a risk factor to develop NS and OFE; premature birth was a potential co-factor. Living in IDP camps was not a risk factor for developing NS or OFE.

Author List

Gumisiriza N, Kugler M, Brusselaers N, Mubiru F, Anguzu R, Ningwa A, Ogwang R, Akun P, Mwaka AD, Abbo C, Sekibira R, Hotterbeekx A, Colebunders R, Marsh K, Idro R


Ronald Anguzu MD, PhD Assistant Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin