During the last three years, U.S. health officials responded to requests for assistance from the Ministries of Health in Uganda and South Sudan to help investigate a mysterious disease affecting children, commonly referred to as Nodding syndrome.
A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said Nodding syndrome may be a new seizure disorder that leaves children with "progressively worsening head nodding, along with development of other seizure types, cognitive decline and malnutrition," the report said.
"This study shows that the Nodding syndrome observed in South Sudan appears to be the same clinical entity as previously described in Uganda," the report said. "The next steps in the investigation are to explore possible connections of Nodding syndrome to the parasite that causes river blindness as well as the possible role of malnutrition and its impact on Nodding syndrome."
River blindness is a parasitic disease caused by infection by a roundworm transmitted to humans via the bite of a black fly. It is the world's second-leading infectious cause of blindness.
CDC officials said they were committed to assisting the governments and people of Uganda and South Sudan in discovering the cause of the syndrome.