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Kitgum Registers New Nodding Syndrome Cases

Joe Otoo, the coordinator of nodding syndrome in Labongo Akwang Sub-county, says the cases were registered in Abudere and Labworormor villages in Pajimo Parish, Labongo Akwang Sub-County Kitgum district.
23 May 2022 14:29

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Kitgum district has reported five new cases of nodding syndrome, a decade after the last cases were registered. Joe Otoo, the coordinator of nodding syndrome in Labongo Akwang Sub-county, says the cases were registered in Abudere and Labworormor villages in Pajimo Parish, Labongo Akwang Sub-County Kitgum district.  

Otoo says they registered the new cases in March and April 2022, when they were updating the register of nodding syndrome patients. He says the parents of three children said they started seeing the signs in the children last year and two others said their children started getting sick of the syndrome this year.

//Cue in: “Laceng man wabedo…”

Cue out: …ni obedo tye,”//

The Centers for Disease Control-CDC defines nodding syndrome as an unexplained neurological condition characterized by episodes of repetitive dropping forward of the head, often accompanied by convulsions and staring spells.

It affects children between 5-15 years leaving them stunted physically and mentally with degenerated nerves.  Scientists in Uganda and beyond have been researching the real cause of the nodding syndrome for years without getting conclusive results.

An analysis done in 2013 shows that there is a consistent connection between nodding syndrome and onchocerca volvulus infection, which signifies that nodding syndrome could be transmitted by blackflies.  

While in 2014, Ugandan scientists took to the United States brain samples and frozen tissues of children between 12-15 years who had died of nodding syndrome and had developed aggressive behavior for a broad examination. The results showed that the victims had a high concentration of crystal-like material or lesions in their brains.

Again in 2018, a group of scientists from Uganda and Toronto noted that the syndrome was caused by an abnormal deposit of protein in the brain. They hoped their discovery could help in finding the real cause of nodding syndrome and open new lines of inquiry that were missing before research.  

In 2018, the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation reported that no new cases of Nodding syndrome have been reported since 2012 when the Internally Displaced Persons Camps were disbanded and communities resettled in original homes. 

However, Otoo says the scientists need to do more since there are new cases emerging. He says the new cases are already getting treatment at Pajimo and Tumanguu Health Centers in the Labongo Akwang sub-county.  

 

//Cue in: “Lok goba pien…”  

Cue out: …gitye iyat,”//    

Felix Ojok, the in-charge of Pajimo health Center III, in Labongo Akwang Sub County, where some of the new patients are getting treatment, said he is not aware of the new cases because he is on leave.  

Dr. David Kitara Lagoro, a lecturer in the Department of Medicine and Biochemistry at Gulu University, and a researcher who has been actively involved in understanding the cause of the nodding syndrome mystery in northern Uganda revealed to Uganda Radio Network on Monday that he had received reports about the new cases.

Dr. Lagoro however noted that he could not give much information until they investigate and confirm the presence of the new cases.  

//Cue in: “We will confirm…”

Cue out: …then we can talk.”//  

If the new cases of nodding syndrome are confirmed, then it will raise more questions about the cause of the mysterious ailment and further obscure the inconclusive studies done by researchers both in Uganda and beyond.  

In December 2021, Dr. Sylvester Onzivua, a renowned Ugandan pathologist who has been investigating the cause of nodding syndrome since 2012, conceded that Uganda alone cannot investigate the cause of nodding syndrome and asked for more support.