Nodding Syndrome Case Study

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As the term suggests, nodding syndrome is primarily characterized by bobbing of the head. It occurs involuntarily and repetitively in children and is sometimes associated with waking early in the morning, eating and exposure to cold weather. The majority of children appear to function normally prior to its onset but their functions deteriorate as the disease progresses. Nodding occurs for longer durations and more frequently following its onset. Then, tonic-clonic and psychomotor seizures develop, with both contributing to trauma and injuries that may be fatal. In addition, cognitive impairment may lead to mental retardation--children with nodding syndrome are usually withdrawn from school and become limited in their social interaction. Other symptoms vary but sometimes include blindness, delayed puberty, and skin disease.
Beginning in 2003 and continuing for the next decade, there was a rapid increase in nodding syndrome cases throughout countries in East Africa including Tanzania, Uganda, and Sudan. The cases are localized and found in rural areas. The majority affected are children and adolescents ages 5-16, and, according to the WHO, 54% are male.8 Exact figures are difficult to know. Estimates from local officials and media reports range from 3,000-8000 cases in 2012 for areas including the districts of Lamwo, Kitgum, and Pader in
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