Headline Feb 10, 2015/ ''' O'' AFRICAN STUDENTS : THE NEW WORLD '''



THE ONLY WOMAN said to have been given the Mau Mau rank of Field-Marshal.

When Muthoni wa Kirima learned of Kenya's independence in 1963, she was still living in the forest.

She had been there since the start of the Mau Mau uprising against the British colonial authority a decade earlier.

No one had told her or her handful of ragged comrades that the fight was over. Most Mau Mau rebels had been bloodily suppressed by 1956. But a hard core continued to battle on. That is Africa..............

IT IS NOT  that the worm causes the syndrome directly   (there is no evidence that it gets into the brains of the sufferers). 

Rather, the theory is that an antibody raised by the immune system to attack the worm:

By an unfortunate coincidence . attacks a crucial component of the brain also. Testing that idea is hard as it means obtaining consent for autopsies and and collecting samples from remote villages before the samples deteriorate.

Dr Dowell has nevertheless managed to gather some in Uganda and expects to publish preliminary results soon.

If  Onchoserca does not turn out to be the trigger, it will be good news of a sort. Infestation is easily treated by a drug called  ivermectin.

Merck, its manufacturer, already makes this available for free for the treatment of river blindness.

That would curb new cases of nodding syndrome.

Mental Cruelty.

The cause of Konzo is not as mysterious. Locals have long known that the disease is a consequence of eating poorly prepared cassava, a root vegetable and a staple for many.

Research suggests that the damage is caused by cyanide that the plant produces to ward off pests.

But there are some strange wrinkles. It is, for example, unknown in South America  -even though that continent has many cassava eaters who are as poor as those of Africa.

And, stranger still, though it affects children of both sexes, those who succumb in adulthood are all women.  

One way to avoid Konzo  is  to prepare cassava carefully by soaking it in water for several days and then drying and fermenting it in the sun for several more.

But this is time-consuming and not everyone bothers.

That gave Michael Bolvin  of Michigan State University a chance to do controlled experiment, to see if  Knozo's  cognitive effects can occur in the absence of its physical ones.

In a study published earlier he looked at three groups of children from two villages in southern Congo.

One group came from a village where cassava is thoroughly processed before it is eaten.

The other two came from one where it is not. Of these latter two groups, one was composed of children who showed physical symptoms of Konzo and the other of those who did not.

Dr Bolvin tested both the blood and mental agility of all the children.

Healthy-looking children from the second village, he found, has as much cyanide in their blood as those with physical symptoms-

And did almost as badly as their visibly symptomatic confreres on mental tests that the children of the first village aced.      

One solution to the  Konzo   problem is to grow a variety of the crop called sweet cassava that is cyanide free. But that brings its own problems:

For its lack of cyanide means sweet cassava is far more susceptible to pests.

Unlike  nodding syndrome, where a drug is readily available, Konzo looks like a more difficult disease to manage without tackling agricultural methods and food preparation techniques.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

'' Blindingly Obvious ''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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