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OBJECTIVES: The prevalence of all epilepsies (both convulsive and non-convulsive seizures) in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC), particularly sub-Saharan Africa is unknown. Under estimation of non-convulsive epilepsies in data from these countries may lead to inadequate and sub-optimal allocation of resources to control and prevent epilepsy. We determined the prevalence of all types of epilepsies and compared the mortality between convulsive seizures and non-convulsive seizures in a resource limited rural area in Kenya. METHODS: Trained clinicians identified cases of epilepsy in a randomly selected sample of 4,441 residents in the Kilifi Health and Demographic Surveillance System site using a cross-sectional survey design. Seizure types were classified by epileptologists using the current guidelines of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE). We estimated prevalence for epilepsy with convulsive seizures and non-convulsive seizures and for epilepsy with non-convulsive seizures only and compared premature mortality between these groups of seizures. RESULTS: Of the 4441 people visited, 141 had lifetime epilepsy and 96 active epilepsy, which is a crude prevalence of 31.7/1,000 persons (95% CI: 26.6-36.9) and 21.6/1,000 (95% CI: 17.3-25.9), respectively. Both convulsive and non-convulsive seizures occurred in 7% people with epilepsy (PWE), only convulsive seizures in 52% and only non-convulsive seizures in 35% PWE; there was insufficient information to classify epilepsy in the remainder 6%. The age- and sex-adjusted prevalence of lifetime people was 23.5/1,000 (95% CI: 11.0-36.0), with the adjusted prevalence of epilepsy with non-convulsive seizures only estimated at 8.2/1,000 (95%CI:3.9-12.6). The mortality rate in PWE was 6.3/1,000 (95%CI: 3.4-11.8), compared to 2.8/1,000 (2.3-3.3) in those without epilepsy; hazard ratio (HR) =2.31 (1.22-4.39; p=0.011). The annual mortality rate was 11.2/1,000 (95%CI: 5.3-23.4) in PWE with convulsive and non-convulsive seizures and none died in PWE with non-convulsive seizures alone. CONCLUSIONS: Our study shows that epilepsy with non-convulsive seizures is common and adds to the prevalence of previously reported estimates of active convulsive epilepsy. Both epilepsy with convulsive seizures and that with non-convulsive seizures should be identified for optimising treatment and for planning resource allocation.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





51 - 55


Convulsive seizures, Epilepsy, Low- and middle-income countries, Mortality, Non-convulsive seizures, Prevalence, Cross-Sectional Studies, Epilepsy, Humans, Kenya, Prevalence, Rural Population, Seizures