OBJECTIVE: Infections involving the central nervous system have very serious consequences and affect thousands of people in Africa. Despite the availability of new antibiotics and vaccines, neuroinfections act as dangerous and life-threatening conditions. The most frequent neuroinfections which are of the greatest importance for public health systems are viral diseases (such as HIV, encephalitis, poliomyelitis, rabies), bacterial diseases (bacterial meningitis, neurological complications of leprosy and tuberculosis) and parasitic infections (cerebral malaria, sleeping sickness, trypanosomiasis, schistosomiasis, toxoplasmosis etc.).
METHODS: A descriptive study to assess the occurrence of neuroinfections in two rural hospitals in Sudan (Mapuordit in Yirol and Gordim in Aweil) was performed in two periods of two years: (i) 2005-2006 and (ii) 2010-2011. We obtained data on patients from Mapuordit and from Gordim by studying their medical records.
RESULTS: Several cases of neuroinfections were observed during both periods; those were represented by tetanus, meningococcal meningitis, leprosy with neuropathy (altogether 442 patients) in Mapuordit. Also in Gordim, severe neuroinfections such as cerebral malaria were very rare (1 case), as well as tetanus (1 case), meningococcal meningitis (8 cases) and sleeping sickness (9 cases). However, the incidence of neuroinfections decreased from 44/1000 in 2005-2006 to 2/1000 in 2010-2011.
CONCLUSIONS: Decreased incidence of serious neuroinfections (cerebral malaria, sleeping sickness, meningococcal meningitis) in Sudan may be related to improvement of effective therapeutic options, represented by (i) intermittent preventive therapy (IPT) for malaria, (ii) by suppression of sleeping sickness vectors and (iii) by better accessibility of antibiotics.