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Neurocysticercosis and epilepsy in developing countries
  1. Deb K Pala,
  2. Arturo Carpiob,
  3. Josemir W A S Sanderc
  1. aNeurosciences Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London, UK, bFaculty of Medicine and Research Institute, University of Cuenca, Cuenca, Ecuador, cEpilepsy Research Group, Institute of Neurology, 33 Queen Square, University College London, UK
  1. Dr DK Pal, Neurosciences Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London, The Wolfson Centre, Mecklenburgh Square, London WC1N 2AP, UK emaild.pal{at}


Neurocysticercosis is a disease of poverty and underdevelopment. Little is known about the natural history of the infection in humans, but some of the mechanisms whereby the parasite remains silent and evades the host immune response are understood. Symptomatic neurocysticercosis usually results from host inflammatory response after parasite death, and the clinical manifestations can be diverse. There is no evidence that cysticidal treatment does more good than harm in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment. Population control measures involving immunisation or mass treatment have not shown long term effectiveness.

Epilepsy, similarly to neurocysticercosis, is a largely unrecognised but increasing burden on the welfare and economies of developing countries. The technology of drug treatment and psychosocial rehabilitation is well known but requires widespread and effective dissemination at low cost. There is little epidemiological data on risk factors for epilepsy in developing countries on which to base prevention strategies. The public health prioritisation of chronic disorders such as epilepsy remains a challenge for policy and practice in developing countries.

For both neurocysticercosis and epilepsy, there is a dilemma about whether limited public resources would better be spent on general economic development, which would be expected to have a broad impact on the health and welfare of communities, or on specific programmes to help individual affected people with neurocysticercosis and epilepsy. Either approach requires detailed economic evaluation.

  • neurocysticercosis
  • epilepsy
  • developing countries
  • service delivery

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