Onchocerciasis prevalence among persons with epilepsy in an onchocerciasis hypo-endemic area in the Democratic Republic of Congo: a cross-sectional study

An Hotterbeekx, Kristien Verdonck, Deby Mukendi, Jean-Roger Lilo-Kalo, Pascal Lutumba, Marleen Boelaert, Liselotte Hardy, Barbara Barbé, Jan Jacobs, Emmanuel Bottieau, Robert Colebunders

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-article

Abstract

A high epilepsy prevalence has been reported in onchocerciasis meso- and hyper-endemic regions in sub-Saharan Africa, including in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We investigated whether onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy can also be suspected in onchocerciasis hypo-endemic regions. Stored serum samples from 342 patients admitted with recent onset neurological symptoms admitted to Mosango general hospital, in the Kwilu province, DRC, between 2012 and 2015 were screened for onchocerciasis (OV16) antibodies by ELISA and Taenia solium antigen (using an in-house B158/B60 antigen test). Eighty-one (23.7%; 95% CI 19.5-28.5%) of these samples were positive for OV16 antibodies and 43/340 (12.6%; 95% CI 9.5-16.6%) were positive for T. solium antigen. Of the 58 persons clinically diagnosed with late onset epilepsy of unknown etiology, 19 (32.8%) were OV16 positive and nine (16%) T. solium antigen positive. In total, 16 persons with epilepsy were OV16 positive and T. solium negative, of whom 12 (75%) were between the ages seven to 31 years old, an age rage in which onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy is observed. Our study suggests that in onchocerciasis hypo-endemic areas, in T. solium antigen negative persons with epilepsy, onchocerciasis should be considered as a potential trigger of epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number389
JournalPathogens
Volume10
Issue number4
Number of pages8
ISSN2076-0817
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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