Another African plague swept Uganda


Vast areas of northern Uganda are covered by a strange outbreak of disease — "sternocleidomastoid syndrome" that causes children and adolescents to nod heavily during meals. From August to mid-December, more than a thousand cases diagnosed.

The causative agent, the worm Onchocerca volvulus

Experts believe that the disease, which may be an unusual form of epilepsy associated with a parasitic worm, also responsible for the "river blindness." "River blindness", or onchocerciasis, struck today about 18 million people around the world, but most of the patients live in Africa.

The causative agent of this ailment — helminth Onchocerca volvulus, the owner of which is only a man and a carrier — female blackflies Simulium damnosum. Adult worms lodge in the lymph nodes of man, where the females give birth to a lot of larvae (microfilariae), which are then migrate under the epidermis of the skin, where they can re-enter the body lice and thus continue the cycle of parasites. Part of the microfilariae is in the eyes of man, getting into all tissues of the optic body. In the eyeball they cause inflammation, bleeding and other complications, leading to the eventual loss of vision.

Almost all children with a "sternocleidomastoid syndrome" live near rivers, which are considered a risk factor, "river blindness." But at the same nematode Onchocerca volvulus is often found in areas of Uganda, where the "sternocleidomastoid syndrome" is not seated.

While medicine can not offer any means of treatment "sternocleidomastoid syndrome." Ugandan Ministry of Health is using anticonvulsants to eliminate the symptoms of a mysterious ailment, which in the meantime is moving forward: A few cases have already been registered in the Republic of South Sudan.

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