Cysticercosis and epilepsy in rural Tanzania: A community-based case-control and imaging study
Hunter E., Burton K., Iqbal A., Birchall D., Jackson M., Rogathe J., Jusabani A., Gray W., Aris E., Kamuyu G., Wilkins PP., Newton CR., Walker R.
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Objective: To assess the contribution of neurocysticercosis (NCC) to the burden of epilepsy in a rural Tanzanian population. Methods: We identified adult people with epilepsy (PWE) in a door-to-door study in an established demographic surveillance site. PWE and community controls were tested for antibodies to Taenia solium, the causative agent of NCC, and all PWE were offered a computed tomography (CT) head scan. Data on household occupancy and sanitation, pig-keeping and pork consumption were collected from PWE and controls and associations with epilepsy were assessed using chi-square or Fisher's exact tests. Results: Six of 218 PWE had antibodies to T. solium (2.8%; 95% CI 0.6-4.9), compared to none of 174 controls (Fisher's exact test, P = 0.04). Lesions compatible with NCC were seen in eight of 200 CT scans (4.0%; 95% CI 1.3-6.7). A total of 176 PWE had both investigations of whom two had positive serology along with NCC-compatible lesions on CT (1.1%; 95% 0.3-4.0). No associations between epilepsy and any risk factors for NCC were identified. Conclusions: Neurocysticercosis is present in this population but at a lower prevalence than elsewhere in Tanzania and sub-Saharan Africa. Insights from low-prevalence areas may inform public health interventions designed to reduce the burden of preventable epilepsy.