Nodding syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that has affected thousands of children between the ages of 5 and 15 years in East Africa, may be caused by an inappropriate immune reaction to the parasitic worm, Onchocerca volvulus, that causes onchocerciasis (river blindness), according to a report published in Science Translational Medicine.
First documented in Tanzania in the 1960s, nodding syndrome has remained an untreatable disease characterized by seizures, neurological deterioration, and a high rate of death. Although the cause of nodding syndrome has been elusive, an increase in the condition in areas where the parasite O volvulus is endemic suggests that infection with the worm plays a role in disease pathogenesis.
Friedrich M. Potential Cause of Nodding Syndrome Identified. JAMA. 2017;317(15):1517. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.3089