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CDC Investigators Working To Understand Nodding Syndrome Among East African Children

Nature News examines the work of a CDC team working in South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda to investigate nodding syndrome, “a poorly understood and seemingly growing problem in eastern Africa.”

The disease, which has struck thousands of children between the ages of five and 15 in the region, “impairs both physical growth and cognitive development” and is marked by head nodding that “occurs when abnormal brain activity causes a brief lapse in neck muscle tone, causing the head to fall forward,” the news service notes. Affected children stop eating, are prone to accidents, and many stop going to school or are “isolated because of fears of contagion,” according to Nature News. “Once they have it, they are going to die with it, and much earlier than they would have otherwise,” Scott Dowell, director of the CDC’s Division of Global Disease Detection and Emergency Response (GDDER), said (7/13).