Kitgum Parents Worry as Nodding Turns Contagious

2266 Views Kitgum, Uganda
Parents of children suffering from the nodding disease are worried that the disease has become contagious. Oketa Agoma of Awere village in Labongo-Amida Sub County says his grand child acquired the nodding disease in 2005. Andrew Omony, who is 13-years-old is severely malnourished and stunted, and can be easily mistaken for a five-year-old. According to Agoma seeing his grand child become unable to walk and talk was such pain, but not more than when three of his grandchildren contracted the same disease a year ago. Agoma claims that two of the children have run mad. He says the only child that still goes to school is gradually becoming dull in class, and rarely remembers what is taught in school. He reveals that some parents have resorted to giving herbs to the troubled children; unfortunately their conditions get even worse. Christine Auma a mother shares the same pain. Her seven year old daughter Vicky Aparo, got the disease a year a go, and has now stopped studying. Aparo is unhealthily skinny. Aparo welcomes any visitor that goes to their home with a wide smile and a hand shake. In an attempt to explain how she feels, Aparo repeats the sentence for more than two minutes untill her mum shuts her up. And her mother says that is the furthest she can go with her speech. What puzzles Auma is the contagious nature of the disease. Now, Aparo's five year old brother has also contracted the affliction. She says although medical officials are giving them epilepsy tablets, there is no improvement in the condition of the children. To her there is a distinction between nodding disease and epilepsy because the former is more severe than the latter. She says her children suffer fits at least four times at night, which she says doesn't happen with epileptics. Auma claims that there are families with five children suffering from the disease, and that there are about two hundred children affected in Okidi village. Mary Grace Lanyero, a senior psychiatric clinical officer at Kitgum trauma center, says the victims of the nodding disease have many complications, and she explains one of them. //Cue in: iWe found that all these#i Cue out: i#for proper analysis.i// Lanyero adds that some of the children present as if they are suffering from meningitis. She says neurological tests have been done, to assess how their nerves are functioning, and possibly answer all the puzzling questions. //Cue in: iWe want o find out#i Cue out: i# has to do something.i// Victims of the nodding disease are children who apparently tend to nod vigorously at the sight of food. The condition often progresses to severe seizures, mental retardation and death.