Objective The aim of this project was to ascertain the minimum prevalence of tic disorders and Tourette syndrome, in school children aged 9–11 in all the mainstream schools of an electoral district of Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean with a 1.2 million population. Most tic disorder studies have been conducted in countries in the northern hemisphere. So far, there are only 3 studies that have been done in the southern hemisphere countries and they were directed at Tourette syndrome explicitly.
Method This study, first of its kind in the southern hemisphere, consisted of a 2 stage process, screening followed by a face to face clinical interview. Screening questionnaires were sent to all the children in standard 4 to 6 (9–11 years of age—a total of 2003) in the 8 schools of the constituency. The tic positive patients were interviewed and the diagnoses were ascertained in accordance to the DSM IV-TR criteria.
Results Out of the 1287 children screened, 53 (35 males, 18 females) were diagnosed with a tic disorder yielding a prevalence of 4.1%. 8 children (7 males and 1 female) fulfilled the criteria for Tourette Disorder (0.6%). Another 0.8% had chronic tic disorder (6 boys and 4 girls). The majority presented with transient tic disorder at 2.5% with a male to female ratio of 19 to 13 respectively. The distribution of non-specific tic disorder was 0.2% (3 males).
Conclusion Tic disorder estimates were congruent with studies performed in the northern realm of the globe. The study was inaugural in suggesting that Tourette disorder may be common in people of Indian descent but is less frequent in African descent.