Epilepsy and neurocysticercosis in Latin America: a systematic review and meta-analysis

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2013 Oct 31;7(10):e2480. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0002480. eCollection 2013.


Background: The difference in epilepsy burden existing among populations in tropical regions has been attributed to many factors, including the distribution of infectious diseases with neurologic sequels. To define the burden of epilepsy in Latin American Countries (LAC) and to investigate the strength of association with neurocysticercosis (NCC), considered one of the leading causes of epilepsy, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature.

Methodology: Studies published until 2012 were selected applying predefined inclusion criteria. Lifetime epilepsy (LTE) prevalence, active epilepsy (AE) prevalence, incidence, mortality, treatment gap (TG) and NCC proportion among people with epilepsy (PWE) were extracted. Median values were obtained for each estimate using random effects meta-analysis. The impact of NCC prevalence on epilepsy estimates was determined using meta-regression models. To assess the association between NCC and epilepsy, a further meta-analysis was performed on case-control studies.

Principal findings: The median LTE prevalence was 15.8/1,000 (95% CI 13.5-18.3), the median AE prevalence was 10.7/1,000 (95% CI 8.4-13.2), the median incidence was 138.2/100,000 (95% CI 83.6-206.4), the overall standardized mortality ratio was 1.4 (95% CI 0.01-6.1) and the overall estimated TG was 60.6% (95% CI 45.3-74.9). The median NCC proportion among PWE was 32.3% (95% CI 26.0-39.0). Higher TG and NCC estimates were associated with higher epilepsy prevalence. The association between NCC and epilepsy was significant (p<0.001) with a common odds ratio of 2.8 (95% CI 1.9-4.0).

Significance: A high burden of epilepsy and of NCC in LAC and a consistent association between these two diseases were pointed out. Furthermore, NCC prevalence and TG were identified as important factors influencing epilepsy prevalence to be considered in prevention and intervention strategies.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Epilepsy / epidemiology*
  • Epilepsy / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Latin America / epidemiology
  • Neurocysticercosis / drug therapy
  • Neurocysticercosis / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence