Neurological Diseases in Karachi, Pakistan – Elevated Occurrence of Subacute Sclerosing PanencephalitisKondo K. · Takasu T. · Ahmed A.
a Department of Public Health, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan; b Department of Neurology, Nihon University, Tokyo, Japan; c Department of Neurology, Dow Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan
Neurological diseases, especially subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), were surveyed in Karachi, Pakistan disclosing following major results. (1) Indirectly estimated prevalence rates of selected neurological disease entities were comparable with the rates from western countries and Japan in heredodegenerative diseases, but grossly elevated in infectious diseases. (2) Estimated mortality statistics for the Karachi community revealed highly elevated rates for infectious, parasitic and perinatal causes of death. (3) SSPE represented about 10% of inflammatory afflictions of the cerebral parenchyma, its incidence rate being about 100% times more than that observed in developed countries. A case-control study preliminarily showed that infants who later contract SSPE have unhealthy mothers, are born small, and have various occurrences of ill health from birth to the onset of SSPE. (4) Age at the onset of measles was very young in the cases as well as in controls, unlike the average young age at onset of cases only in developed countries. Measles contracted at young age is a well known risk factor to SSPE. Whereas few children in developed countries acquire measles at such an early age, many Karachi children do. Elevated occurrence of SSPE is probably conditioned by such age patterns of measles infection, together with other risk factors more common in Karachi due to poorer health standards. A proper immunization programme is urgently needed to control measles and SSPE.
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