Epilepsy, a neurological condition which affects individuals of all ages has been widely reported to be caused by parasitic, fungal, bacterial or viral infectious diseases of the Central Nervous System (CNS). Taenia solium infection otherwise known as neurocysticercosis in taeniasis endemic zones, Onchocerca volvulus infection in onchocerciasis meso/hyperendemic areas in Africa and other infectious agents have been highly incriminated in different parts of the world. Epilepsy remains an important but neglected public health problem in many countries. Ngie sub division is endemic for onchocerciasis and the people are highly involved in pig farming and pork consumption. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of epilepsy in Ngie, investigate its association with Taenia solium infection as well as other risk factors.
A stratified random sampling in which six villages were selected from three clusters was used for the study. Nine hundred and fourteen (914) structured questionnaires were administered in a community-based door-to-door survey to determine the prevalence of epilepsy and its associated risk factors. Stool, urine and blood samples from 298 individuals were studied by microscopy in a case-control community based laboratory investigation to establish the relationship between epilepsy and T. solium as well as other intestinal, blood and urinary parasites. Infection with O. volvulus was not investigated.
The prevalence of epilepsy in this population was 9% (82/914). Infection by Taenia species was 1.5% (2/135) in epilepsy patients and 0.6% (1/163) in non-epilepsy participants (P > 0.5). Yeast cells were significantly higher in the stool of epilepsy patients (14.1%) than the controls (5.5%) (P = 0.016). Among the risk factors investigated in this study, a positive family history (93.9% for epileptics and 42.5% for non-epileptics) and fungal infection could be incriminated. The peak age of epilepsy onset in patients was 12 years (19.5%, 16/82) and over 95% of the patients did not exceed 30 years of age. Characteristics of Onchocerciasis Associated Epilepsy (OAE) where observed.
The high prevalence of epilepsy in Ngie sub division in the Momo valley is not associated with T. solium infection. Family history, fungal infection and O. volvulus infection could be responsible.