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Int J Epidemiol. 1999 Aug;28(4):799-803.

Epilepsy and neurocysticercosis in an Andean community.

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Institute for Tropical Neurology, Unit of Neurosciences, Central University School of Medicine, Quito, Ecuador.



Taenia solium neurocysticercosis (NCC) has been documented as one of the major causes of epilepsy in developing countries. However, methodological limitations have hindered the evaluation of the epidemiological relationship between cysticercosis and epilepsy at the community level.


We used the WHO protocol for epidemiological evaluation of neurological disorders to conduct a door-to-door survey among 2723 residents of San Pablo del Lago, an Ecuadorean rural community in which T. solium taeniasis/cysticercosis was known to be endemic. The WHO protocol was complemented by neuroimaging and immunological tests to confirm the diagnosis of this infection.


In all 31 people suffering from active epilepsy were detected (prevalence 11.4 per 1000, 95% CI:7.7-15.4); 26 agreed to undergo a computer tomography (CT) examination, and 28 agreed to have blood drawn for serodiagnosis. Fourteen of the 26 (53.8%) had CT changes compatible with NCC and six of the 28 (21.4%) tested positive in the enzyme-linked immunoelectro-transfer blot (EITB) assay. In a seizure-free random sample of this population, 17 of 118 (144 per 1000) subjects examined by CT and 10 out of 96 (104 per 1000) examined by EITB had evidence of this infection. The differences between the epilepsy group and the random sample of the population were statistically significant (OR = 6.93, 95% CI: 2.7-17.5, P < 0.001) for CT diagnosis, but not for EITB results (OR = 2.75, 95% CI: 0.8-7.1, P > 0.12, NS).


These findings confirm that T. solium NCC is a significant cause of epilepsy at the community level in Andean villages of Ecuador. It is important to initiate effective public health interventions to eliminate this infection, which may be responsible for at least half of the cases of reported epilepsy in Ecuador.

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