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A Cross-Sectional Study of People with Epilepsy and Neurocysticercosis in Tanzania: Clinical Characteristics and Diagnostic Approaches.

Public Library of Science
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  • Community Health
  • Mental Health (Psycho-Social Health & Wellbeing)
  • History
  • Medicine


Neurocysticercosis (NCC) is a major cause of epilepsy in regions where pigs are free-ranging and hygiene is poor. Pork production is expected to increase in the next decade in sub-Saharan Africa, hence NCC will likely become more prevalent. In this study, people with epilepsy (PWE, n=212) were followed up 28.6 months after diagnosis of epilepsy. CT scans were performed, and serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of selected PWE were analysed. We compared the demographic data, clinical characteristics, and associated risk factors of PWE with and without NCC. PWE with NCC (n=35) were more likely to be older at first seizure (24.3 vs. 16.3 years, p=0.097), consumed more pork (97.1% vs. 73.6%, p=0.001), and were more often a member of the Iraqw tribe (94.3% vs. 67.8%, p=0.005) than PWE without NCC (n=177). PWE and NCC who were compliant with anti-epileptic medications had a significantly higher reduction of seizures (98.6% vs. 89.2%, p=0.046). Other characteristics such as gender, seizure frequency, compliance, past medical history, close contact with pigs, use of latrines and family history of seizures did not differ significantly between the two groups. The number of NCC lesions and active NCC lesions were significantly associated with a positive antibody result. The electroimmunotransfer blot, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was more sensitive than a commercial western blot, especially in PWE and cerebral calcifications. This is the first study to systematically compare the clinical characteristics of PWE due to NCC or other causes and to explore the utility of two different antibody tests for diagnosis of NCC in sub-Saharan Africa.

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