A Baffling Illness Strikes Africa Which Turns Children Into Violent Zombies

The World Health Organization is on high alert about new Ugandan outbreak that turns children into violent and mindless humans “zombies” for lack of better terms.

The disease is called the Nodding Disease and it has struck thousands of children in the Northern Uganda Region, this illness causes seizures, violent behavior, and personality changes that make the children do irrational and “unsafe” things.

The main problem with this disease is that there is no known cure, once a child contracts the disease they lose all hope for ever having a normal future and eventually die from violent acts, or from mental retardation disorders.

The most severe of the violent acts is catching buildings on fire, it is reported that more than 200 people have been killed by fires started by children that have this disease.

Peter Spencer has been studying the disease for several years now, and figured out that before the child conducts a violent act, they go into small nodding seizures that often begin when the child begins to eat, or sometimes when he/she feels cold. These seizures are brief and halt after the child stops eating or when they feel warm again. This could explain why they start houses on fire, but it’s not a 100% definitive fact.

According to Wikipedia, these seizures can manifest themselves with a wide degree of severity. Spencer, has stated that upon presentation with food, “one or two [children] will start nodding very rapidly in a continuous, pendulous nod. The child next door will suddenly go into a grand-mal seizure, others will freeze.”

It is currently unknown what causes the disease, but it is believed to be connected to infestations of the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus, which is prevalent in all outbreak areas.  O. volvulus, a nematode, is carried by the black fly and causes river blindness. In 2004, most children suffering from nodding disease lived close to the Yei River, a hotbed for river blindness, and 93% of nodding disease sufferers were found to harbor the parasite–a far higher percentage than in children without the disease.

Pauline Oto and Thomas are two children living in Northern Uganda that have contracted the disease, their mother Grace Lagat, has to tie them up using fabric like handcuffs every time she steps out of the house, but according to reports, the children gnaw at their fabric restraints and try to escape whatever is keeping them from going out into the public.

The disease is not new.  It popped up in the 1960s in Sudan.  From there it slowly spread to Libya and Tanzania.

The Uganda infections, however, are a new outbreak – and it’s a very troubling sign.  The jump into a new region could be pure coincidence, or it could indicate the disease has become more virulent or found a new transmissions vector. Which, if it gets into the US it can cause a lot of problems.