Author(s): TekleHaimanot R, Forsgren L, Ekstedt J
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Abstract PURPOSE: To study the incidence of epilepsy in a rural area of Ethiopia. METHODS: A community-based study was performed in a random sample of villages with 61,686 inhabitants in a rural area of central Ethiopia. In a door-to-door survey, all inhabitants in the study area were interviewed about seizures. A standardized protocol was used. All new cases with epilepsy that had occurred since a previous study was made 3.5 years earlier were included. Fifty-three of the subjects were investigated with EEG. RESULTS: One-hundred thirty-nine incident cases were identified, corresponding to an annual incidence of 64 in 100,000 inhabitants [95\% confidence interval (CI) 44-84]. The corresponding rate for males was 72 (CI 42-102); for females, it was 57 (CI 31-84). The highest age-specific incidence occurred in the youngest age groups (0-9 years); the next highest was in the group aged 10-19 years. Generalized convulsive seizures occurred in 69\%, partial seizures occurred in 20\%, and unclassifiable seizures occurred in 11\%. Seizures occurred daily in 10\% and weekly in another 14\%; 33\% had monthly seizures. Twenty-two percent had a family history of epilepsy. A history of head trauma was ascertained in 5.7\% and was the most common possible etiologic factor identified. Thirteen percent were treated with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). CONCLUSIONS: The incidence of epilepsy in Ethiopia is high. A high incidence in combination with a prevalence of epilepsy in the study area comparable to that in the rest of the world may be explained by a high degree of spontaneous remission of epilepsy and/or a high mortality due to epilepsy. Despite health education on epilepsy given to the community, a minority of subjects were treated with AEDs, which may reflect the inadequacies of the health services and transportation difficulties faced by the patients.
This article was published in Epilepsia
and referenced in Journal of Psychiatry