LETTERS / LETTRES
KENYA : A NEW HUMAN CYSTICERCOSIS FOCUS
E-Mail Contact - MACHARIA Waruingi : firstname.lastname@example.org
When the larval form (Cysticercus cellulosae) of Taenia solium migrates to the brain, partial or secondarily generalized seizures may develop. In some countries in Africa (4) and the south American sub-continent (5) cysticercosis may be responsible for epilepsy in up to 50% of the cases. Cases of human cysticercosis have not yet been described in Kenya to our knowledge in the literature. During the second half of 1998, patients with epilepsy were recruited in a rural and an urban region in non-governmental epilepsy care organization in Kenya. The rural region studied was Nyahururu and the urban region studied was Nairobi.
Serology for cysticercosis was realized by ELISA method using crude C. cellulosae antigen isolated from raw pork (1). The patients and the controls were similar in demographic characteristics: mean age was 20 years ± 10 and 58% were males. Five out of 99 patients (5.0%) and 3 out of 124 (2.4%) controls had positive serology for cysticercosis. This finding of cysticercosis infected epileptic patients in Kenya has several important ramifications. Seropositivity for cysticercosis with higher frequency in patients with epilepsy is proof that the disease does exist in Kenya and may be the only factor responsible for the disease. This warrants close attention from health care personnel and the patient community, as cysticercosis is a practically preventable disease. It is possible that there exists more cases in endemic locations that were not reached by this study, especially in the semi-forested Savannah regions of the Rift Valley, and the wetter zones in the western part of Kenya.
It will be many years before Kenya acquires correct equipment for brain imaging that is accessible to the average man. Meanwhile, serology for cysticercosis may be a reasonable addition in the patient work up for seizure disorders in Kenya and should be done routinely.