Definition of Nodding syndrome

Reviewed on 6/3/2021

Nodding syndrome: A mysterious illness described in certain parts of Africa characterized by head nodding combined with convulsions, staring episodes, or other manifestations of seizures. Nodding syndrome has been described in South Sudan, Northern Uganda, and southern Tanzania. It primarily affects children between 5-15 years of age.

The cause of this condition is unknown. Studies have shown that affected children are more likely than the general population to be infected with the parasite known as Onchocerca volvulus, but it is unknown if this parasite actually plays a role in the disease development. Other risk factors for the condition have not been identified.

Also referred to as Nodding disease.


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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Nodding Syndrome -- South Sudan, 2011." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) 61.3 (2012): 52-54.

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