Introduction: Estimates of the prevalence of essential tremor (ET) vary widely but there is little existing data on the prevalence of ET in sub-Saharan Africa .
Patients and Methods: A door-to-door community-based prevalence study of ET was carried out in the Hai district of northern Tanzania (n=161,071). The screening questionnaire was followed by examination of positive responders and backed up with other case finding methods.
Results: 222 patients responded positively to the screening questions and 43 were referred by village elders. 65 (38 were male and 27 female) were diagnosed with ET. Mean age was 72 years and mean duration of symptoms was 11.3 years. The crude prevalence rate was 41/100,000 and age-standardised prevalence compared to the UK population (2001) was 82/100,000.
Discussion: This is the first community-based prevalence study of ET in sub-Saharan Africa. Previous data from community-based neurological surveys showed lower prevalence rates of 5/100,000 in Ethiopia and 10/100,000 in Nigeria. Non-selective beta blockers are available locally and are affordable, yet none of these patients had previously been on any treatment.
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