Onchocerca volvulus and epilepsy

Onchocerca volvulus and epilepsy

Recently several epidemiological studies have suggested an association between epilepsy (including nodding disease) with onchocerciasis (https://doi.org/10.1186/s40249-018-0400-0). The prevalence rate for epilepsy in onchocerciasis endemic areas has been recorded at between 2 and 8% which contrasts to a rate of 1.4% in areas where onchocerciasis does not occur.

Although a causal link between O volvulus and epilepsy has yet to be proven, there is a suggestion that control of onchocerciasis may also reduce the incidence of epilepsy.  The onset of epilepsy in onchocerciasis patients is between 3 and 18 years. Children below 5 years are excluded from ivermectin treatment, but an onchocerciasis vaccine could offer protection against epilepsy if a true aetiological link exists.