Special Issue "Onchocerciasis and River Epilepsy"
A special issue of Pathogens (ISSN 2076-0817).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2020.
Interests: Onchocerciasis; epilepsy; epidemiology; public health; infectious and tropical diseases
Interests: Onchocerciasis; parasite biology; nematodes
There is growing epidemiological evidence that onchocerciasis (river blindness) is able to induce epilepsy (onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy (OAE) or river epilepsy) and that this form of epilepsy is an important unrecognized public health problem in many onchocerciasis-endemic regions where onchocerciasis elimination efforts are not or suboptimally implemented. Moreover, recent studies have shown that nodding syndrome and Nakalanga syndrome are phenotypic presentations of OAE. OAE is characterized by an age of onset of epilepsy between 3 and 18 years with a normal psychomotor development prior to the onset and without an obvious cause for epilepsy, such as a history of perinatal anoxia, meningitis/encephalitis, cerebral malaria or head trauma. In the affected communities, clustering of epilepsy cases is observed in households and villages located close to blackfly (Simulium) breeding sites in rapid flowing rivers. A high Onchocerca volvulus microfilarial load in young children correlates with an increased risk of developing epilepsy later in life. It is estimated that in Africa, there are approximately 300,000 persons with OAE which could have been prevented through improved onchocerciasis elimination efforts.
Despite strong epidemiological evidence that O. volvulus is able to trigger seizures, the pathophysiological mechanism of how this may happen remains obscure. Direct invasion of parasites in the central nervous system seems unlikely since no O. volvulus microfilariae or DNA could be detected in the cerebrospinal fluid of persons with OAE, nor in brain samples from persons who died of OAE. It has been suggested that neurotoxic cross-reacting O. volvulus antibodies may play a role, but this has not been confirmed. O. volvulus releases a wide range of excretory/secretory products (ESPs) into the host environment. However, very little is known about the function of these ESP. A better knowledge of the biology of O. volvulus seems to be critical to elucidate the pathophysiology of OAE.
For this Special Issue of Pathogens, we invite you to submit research articles, review articles, short notes, as well as communications that could contribute to a better understanding of the link between onchocerciasis and epilepsy. This includes papers about epidemiological and clinical aspects of OAE, potential pathophysiological mechanisms, basic research about O. volvulus, and very importantly research about how to prevent and treat river epilepsy. We look forward to your contribution.
Prof. Dr. Robert Colebunders
Prof. Jacob Souopgui
Manuscript Submission Information
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- Excretory/secretory products
- Nodding syndrome
- Nakalanga syndrome