Ugandan Government Draws Up Response Plan To Combat ‘Nodding Disease’

The Ugandan government is creating a “wide-ranging response plan” to “nodding disease, a mysterious ailment characterized by seizures, nodding of the head, mental retardation and stunting, which affects thousands of children in [northern Uganda],” IRIN reports. The WHO has recorded 3,097 cases of the disease and at least 170 deaths, often caused by starvation “because the condition makes it impossible to eat,” the news service writes.

“The $2.9 million plan calls for sensitization programs aimed at making parents take their children to health centers for check-ups; setting up mobile clinics, as well as centers for screening, treatment and nutritional support; the development of treatment guidelines; twice-yearly mass treatment of river blindness; increased surveillance; and an in-depth epidemiological study to help understand the disease,” IRIN notes (3/6). “‘We have a long list of things that are not causing nodding disease. We still don’t have a definitive cause,’ said Dr. Scott Dowell, director of the division of global disease detection and emergency response of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),” Reuters writes, noting that researchers have observed a “possible link with the black fly-borne parasite that causes river blindness, or onchocerciasis” (Edwards, 3/6).