A cross-sectional study was carried out in Pindi located 115 kilometers from Kikwit, Democratic Republic of the Congo to characterize a local school epidemic involving paralysis of the lower extremities, identify risk factors, and establish differential diagnosis with konzo and spastic paralysis related to human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1). Data was obtained using a qualitative approach based on records, interviews, focus group technique, and neurological examination. Blood tests using the ELISA and western blot tests were performed to detect HTLV-1 and HIV l and 2. A total of 41 cases of paralysis were observed between 1994 and 1998. All patients were female and most (n=28) were between the ages of 16 and 20 at the time of the study. The majority of cases were recorded in 1998 (31 prevalent cases and 16 incidents). Epidemiological data, clinical findings, and laboratory tests suggested that the etiology was mass hysteria with somatic conversion rather than toxic or viral causes in most cases. The psychosocial environment played an important role in the spread of the epidemic. These findings demonstrate the crucial role of the psychosocial environment in the occurrence of mass hysteria and support use of integrated health programs in developing countries.
|Translated title of the contribution||Mass hysteria, konzo, and HTLV-1 virus in the democratic republic of congo|
|Number of pages||5|
|State||Published - Dec 1 1999|
- Black Africa
- Mass hysteria
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases