Date of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Type



Biological Sciences

Director of Thesis

Dr. Monique J. Brown, PhD, MPH

First Reader

Dr. Grayson Morgan, PhD

Second Reader

Dr. Grayson Morgan, PhD


Wernicke’s Encephalopathy is a consistently underrecognized neurodegenerative brain disorder resulting from prolonged thiamine deficiency. Clinical presentation of the disease results from brain lesions attributable to thiamine deficiency. Because these lesions occur in various locations in the cerebral cortex, symptoms can vary significantly. Varied presentation of symptoms, in addition to the lack of a widely accepted biomarker for the disorder cause challenges to clinicians when identifying and diagnosing the disorder. Due to these challenges, healthcare providers must heavily rely on patient history and risk factor prevalence when multiple symptoms of the disorder are present. By mapping the prevalence of the four risk factors with the highest association to Wernicke’s Encephalopathy in the state of South Carolina, this project aims to provide a resource for healthcare providers that can be used during the diagnostic procedure. From these maps, Marlboro County, Allendale County, Marion County, Barnwell County, and Dillion County are identified as the areas with the highest expected risk of WE. Furthermore, this project aims to spread awareness of the disorder and its contributing factors to the general population of South Carolina through a published website containing interactive maps that visualize prevalence data in the state.

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© 2023, Shannon M Rychener