Prevalence of neurocysticercosis in people with epilepsy in the Eastern province of Zambia

Kabemba E Mwape, Joachim Blocher, Jasmin Wiefek, Kathie Schmidt, Pierre Dorny, Nicolas Praet, Clarance Chiluba, Holger Schmidt, Isaac K Phiri, Andrea S Winkler, Sarah Gabriël

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    Zambia is endemic for Taenia solium taeniosis and cysticercosis. In this single-centered, cross-sectional, community-based study, the role of neurocysticercosis (NCC) as a cause of epilepsy was examined. People with epilepsy (PWE, n = 56) were identified in an endemic area using a screening questionnaire followed by in-depth interviews and neurological examination. Computed tomography (CT) was performed on 49 people with active epilepsy (PWAE) and their sera (specific antibody and antigen detection, n = 56) and stools (copro-antigen detection, n = 54) were analyzed. The CT scan findings were compared to a group of 40 CT scan controls. Of the PWE, 39.3% and 23.2% were positive for cysticercal antibodies and antigens, respectively, and 14.8% for coproantigens (taeniosis). Lesions highly suggestive of NCC were detected in 24.5% and definite NCC lesions in 4.1% of CT scans of PWAE. This compares to 2.5% and 0%, respectively, in the control CT scans. Using the Del Brutto diagnostic criteria, 51.8% of the PWAE were diagnosed with probable or definitive NCC and this rose to 57.1% when the adapted criteria, as proposed by Gabriël et al. (adding the sero-antigen ELISA test as a major criterion), were used. There was no statistically significant relationship between NCC, current age, age at first seizure and gender. This study suggests that NCC is the single most important cause of epilepsy in the study area. Additional large-scale studies, combining a community based prevalence study for epilepsy with neuroimaging and serological analysis in different areas are needed to estimate the true impact of neurocysticercosis in endemic regions and efforts should be instituted to the control of T. solium.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
    Issue number8
    Pages (from-to)e0003972
    Number of pages15
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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