Nodding disease attacks kids, usually when they’re between the ages of five and 15. The infection affects the brain and symptoms include seizures and a lack of physical and mental development. Many children, unable or unwilling to eat, become malnourished and die.
It’s rare—some kids get it, but most don’t. It was reported in Tanzania in the ‘60s, and then Sudan and more recently, Uganda. Because of its rarity (hundreds of cases are reported, not tens of thousands or millions), and location in very poor countries, it’s what’s called a neglected disease.
Epidemiologists aren’t certain of the cause, although they’ve found a possible association with the parasite that causes onchocerciasis (river blindness). This parasite is a filarial worm transmitted by the female blackfly.
If hundreds of kids in Miami, Atlanta and Charlotte were experiencing these symptoms, this disease wouldn’t be neglected. That’s a fact, but we don’t have to live with it. Speak up. Act up. Let’s get some noise going to help these kids.
Author: Trish Parnell