African sleeping sickness

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The paper is produced on the most dreadful disease which many are not aware about, “the African Sleeping Sickness.” Highlighting the main causes, health concerns symptoms and the precautionary measures, this work would mark to be an important tool for more information regarding the disorder. It is believed that “ an educationalist' job is to create awareness among the non-educated mass,” so we take this opportunity as a previous job to sort the problems of millions who aren’t aware about the diseases and it’s other characteristics. Having seen reports of millions losing life for the unawareness, this piece is produced.

Keywords:  [disorder, Awareness, prevention]

African Sleeping Sickness

Termed as the “African trypanosomiasis”, the disease is caused by infection with the parasite Trypanosoma brucei. African trypanosomiasis is transmitted to humans by tsetse fly bites. The tsetse flies are found only in rural Africa.  There are two types that infect humans, Trypanosoma brucei gambiense (TbG) and Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense (TbR). TbG causes over 98% of reported cases Both are usually transmitted by the bite of an infected tsetse fly and are most common in rural areas.

                                               Affected Masses

Humans are the main reservoir for T. b. gambiense but this species can also be found in pigs and other animals. Wild game animals and cattle are the main reservoir of T. b. rhodesiense. These parasites primarily infect individuals in sub-Saharan Africa because that is where the vector (tsetse fly) is located. The two human forms of the disease also vary greatly in intensity. T. b. gambiense causes a chronic condition that can remain in a passive phase for months or years before symptoms emerge and the infection can last about 3 years before death occurs.


          Tsetse fly bites can be quite painful. Travelers often recall being bitten. A painful sore often shows up at the site of the bite within a week or so. It’s called a chancre.

          Each person may have slightly different symptoms. But symptoms tend to happen within 1 to 4 weeks of infection. At first, they may include fever, skin lesions, rash, swelling, or swollen lymph nodes on the back of the neck. After many weeks, the infection may become meningoencephalitis. This is an infection of the brain and the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. As the illness gets worse, symptoms may include:

Severe headache

Personality change

Weight loss


Loss of concentration

Progressive confusion

Slurred speech


Difficulty walking and talking

Sleeping for long periods of the day

Insomnia at night

                                                     How can it be diagnosed ?

                    See a healthcare provider as soon as possible if you think you are infected. Tests can find

 the parasite. These tests may include blood samples and a spinal tap (lumbar puncture). Your provider

 may also take a sample of chancre fluid or tissue, or fluid from swollen lymph nodes[n1] .                   

                                             Measures for prevention

             No vaccine or medicine can prevent African sleeping sickness. But you can avoid being bitten by tsetse flies. Experts recommend the following:

Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and pants. Tsetse flies can bite through

 material, so clothing should be made of thick fabric.

Wear khaki, olive, or other neutral-colored clothing. Tsetse flies are attracted to bright and dark

contrasting colors.

Use bed nets when sleeping.

Look inside vehicles for tsetse flies before getting into them.

Do not ride in the back of jeeps, pickup trucks, or other open vehicles. Tsetse flies are attracted to

 the dust created by moving vehicles and animals.

Stay away from bushes. During the hottest part of the day, the tsetse fly will rest in bushes. But

 they will bite if disturbed.


African trypanosomiasis is fatal if not treated.

In early or stage 1 disease, most patients recover fully with treatment.

In late or stage 2 disease, the CNS disease will be fatal if untreated but the cure rate approaches 95% with drugs that cross the blood/brain barrier, such as melarsoprol.

Treatment usually resolves symptoms and clears parasites on repeat blood smears.

Previous infection does not grant future immunity.

                                               Life Cycle

                 During a blood meal on the mammalian host, an infected tsetse fly (genus Glossina) injects metacyclic trypomastigotes into skin tissue. The parasites enter the lymphatic system and pass into the bloodstream . Inside the host, they transform into bloodstream trypomastigotes , are carried to other sites throughout the body, reach other blood fluids (e.g., lymph, spinal fluid), and continue the replication by binary fission The entire life cycle of African Trypanosomes is represented by extracellular stages. The tsetse fly becomes infected with bloodstream trypomastigotes when taking a blood meal on an infected mammalian host. In the fly’s midgut, the parasites transform into procyclic trypomastigotes, multiply by binary fission, leave the midgut, and transform into epimastigotes . The epimastigotes reach the fly’s salivary glands and continue multiplication by binary fission The cycle in the fly takes approximately 3 weeks.   


              Only four drugs are registered for the treatment of human African trypanosomiasis: pentamidine, suramin, melarsoprol and eflornithine. A fifth drug, nifurtimox, is used in combination under special authorizations. However, none of them are anodyne as all have a certain level of toxicity. Pentamidine and suramin are used in the first or early stage of T.b.gambiense and T.b. rhodesiense infections respectively.

                                                  Three things we learnt

Humans are regarded as the main reservoir that plays a key role in the transmission cycle of the disease       

African trypanosomiasis is fatal if not treated           

There is no vaccine.



Tidy, Colin. (2014). African Trypanosomiasis. Infectious disease, 2-4.

Moloo, Ashok. (2016). Neglected tropical diseases. Page 3-5.


August 04, 2023

Health Life Science


Illness Medicine

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