Baffling Illness Strikes Africa, Turns Children Into Violent "Zombies" [View all]
Jason Mick (Blog) - March 20, 2012 9:11 PM
World Health Organization is on high alert about new Ugandan outbreak, cause is not fully known
It's called the "nodding disease" and it's a baffling illness that has struck thousands of children in northern Uganda. The illness brings on seizures, violent behavior, personality changes, and a host of other unusual symptoms.
I. Violent and Mindless: Child Victims Have no Cure, no Future
Grace Lagat, a northern Uganda native, is mother of two children -- Pauline Oto and Thomas -- both of whom are victims of the disease. For their safety, when she leaves the house, she now ties them up, using fabric like handcuffs. She recalls, "When I am going to the garden, I tie them with cloth. If I don't tie them I come back and find that they have disappeared."
Reportedly the children gnaw at their fabric restraints, like a rabid animals -- or "zombies" of popular fiction -- in an attempt to escape.
The effort to restrain the children is not unwarranted. In one of the most bizarre symptoms of this tragic illness, children with the disease are reportedly setting fire to buildings in their communities. Coupled with the aimless wandering this disease provokes in victims, this is a deadly combination. More than 200 people have been killed in fires believed to be set by the zombified children.