Document Type



Internal Medicine (East Africa)


Background: Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) is an auto-immune disease of the central nervous system (CNS) associated with the IgG-antibody against aquaporin-4 (AQP4-IgG). There is little published epidemiology of NMOSD from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

Methods: We retrospectively collated NMOSD cases admitted to our tertiary regional neurology centre.

Results: We identified 11 cases (10 female, average age 30 years). 64% (7/11) were seropositive for AQP4-IgG, measured using indirect immunofluorescence. The remaining cases could either not afford tests, or had patho-gnomonic radiological features. 57% (4/7) of seropositive cases had concurrent/recent CNS infection. All pa-tients were treated with high-dose intravenous methylprednisolone (IVMP), and 36% (4/11) also had plasma exchange. Only 55% (6/11) of the patients were seen by a neurologist at presentation: they had less relapses (1.3 vs 2.4), less diagnostic delay (2.3 vs 7.4 months), and were less disabled at the end of our review period. 10 cases were immunosuppressed long-term: 60% on mycophenolate, 30% azathioprine, and one on rituximab.

Conclusion: Our study is the largest case series of NMOSD from the East Africa region. Patients faced challenges of access to appropriate and affordable testing, and timely availability of a neurologist at onset, which had impacts on their functional outcomes. The majority of the seropositive cases had recent/concurrent CNS infections, suggesting triggered auto-immunity.

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