At least if reports coming in from Africa are to be believed.
The ‘Nodding Disease’ is a virulent condition affecting African children in Uganda. The symptoms include seizure, bizarre personality changes, mental degradation, and, in a so-far unconfirmed report, irrational violence in a small number of victims. The CNN report actually refers to the victims as ‘zombies’
According to reports, one mother of infected children has to tie them up whenever she leaves the house, or they wander around and ‘set fires’ randomly with no seeming reason. The children cannot be reasoned with, and will attempt to gnaw through their restraints.
Infected children are doomed to a slow, mental degradation, leading to loss of speech, partial paralysis, personality changes and the supposed violence.
The disease first reared it’s head in 1960’s Sudan, but has recently spread more rapidly, perhaps indicating the disease has mutated into a new, more virulent form. As yet, there is no cure.
The WHO and the CDC aren’t yet sure what’s causing the disease, or even the seizures which are the main symptom, but children with the disease often show severe Vitamin B6 deficiency, leading them to believe it may be related to poor nutrition. However, many potential causes – parasites, infections etc – can have vitamin deficiency as a side effect.
There are a lot of problems with discovering a cause and a cure at the moment, not least uncaring governments worldwide. While the Ugandan Government has asked for help with the disease, funds meant for the researchers and doctors are going missing. It’s likely proper attention won’t be paid until the disease hits Europe or America, because that’s always how these things work.
The worst affected are children aged 3-11.
Now, so far it remains in Africa, but as no transmission vector, cause or cure is known, this IS cause for concern. Avoid anyone who has been travelling in affected areas, don’t go to Uganda, and maybe stock up on B6 in case that is the cause of the problems.
If you feel you can afford to, consider donating to a group trying to discover a cause and a cure, or towards care for the affected children. I can’t find one at the moment, but rest assured when I do, this post will be amended with a link.