by Gretchen Vogel
Science Magazine, February 15, 2017
Between 1990 and 2013, thousands of children in war-torn South Sudan and northern Uganda suddenly developed a severe and puzzling form of epilepsy. When exposed to food or cold temperatures, affected children nodded their heads uncontrollably. Over time the seizures often worsened, leaving the children severely disabled. Many died of malnutrition, accidents, or secondary infections. But the cause of the devastation was a mystery. Now, a study finds that a parasitic worm often found in the children might trigger the body’s own defenses to attack neurons. The study doesn’t prove the worm is the culprit, but it is the first to show that a cause-effect relationship is plausible.