Objectives: To examine the prevalence of seizures, epilepsy and seropositivity to cysticercosis in rural villagers (cysticercosis-endemic setting), rural-to-urban migrants into a non-endemic urban shanty town and urban inhabitants of the same non-endemic shanty town. Methods: Three Peruvian populations (n = 985) originally recruited into a study about chronic diseases and migration were studied. These groups included rural inhabitants from an endemic region (n = 200), long-term rural-to-urban migrants (n = 589) and individuals living in the same urban setting (n = 196). Seizure disorders were detected by a survey, and a neurologist examined positive respondents. Serum samples from 981/985 individuals were processed for cysticercosis antibodies on immunoblot. Results: Epilepsy prevalence (per 1000 people) was 15.3 in the urban group, 35.6 in migrants and 25 in rural inhabitants. A gradient in cysticercosis antibody seroprevalence was observed: urban 2%, migrant 13.5% and rural group 18% (P < 0.05). A similarly increasing pattern of higher seroprevalence was observed among migrants by age at migration. In rural villagers, there was strong evidence of an association between positive serology and having seizures (P = 0.011) but such an association was not observed in long-term migrants or in urban residents. In the entire study population, compared with seronegative participants, those with strong antibody reactions (≥ 4 antibody bands) were more likely to have epilepsy (P < 0.001). Conclusions: It is not only international migration that affects cysticercosis endemicity; internal migration can also affect patterns of endemicity within an endemic country. The neurological consequences of cysticercosis infection likely outlast the antibody response for years after rural-to-urban migration.
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© 2015 The Authors. Tropical Medicine & International Health Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.