African Sleeping Sickness

African Sleeping Sickness

More than 66 million women, men and children in 36
Countries of sub-Saharan Africa suffer from human
African trypanosomiasis (HAT). There are two forms
of African sleeping sickness, caused by two different

Trypanosoma brucei gambiense , which causes a
chronic infection lasting years and affecting countries
of western and central Africa

Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense , which causes
acute illness lasting several weeks in countries of
eastern and southern Africa

The parasite that causes sleeping sickness is called
the trypanosome.It is transmitted to humans through
the bite of a tsetse fly of the genus Glossina


At first, the main clinical signs of human trypanosomiasis are
high fever, weakness and headache, joint pains and pruritus
(itching). Gradually, the immune defence mechanisms and
the patient's resistance are exhausted. As the parasite develops
in the lymph and blood of the patient, the initial symptoms
become more pronounced and other manifestations such as
anaemia, cardiovascular and endocrine disorders, abortion,
oedema and kidney disorders appear.

In advanced stages of disease, the parasite invades the
central nervous system. The patient's behaviour changes;
they can no longer concentrate and become indifferent
to their environment. Sudden and unpredictable mood
changes become increasingly frequent, giving rise to lethargy
with bouts of aggressiveness. Patients are overcome by such
extreme torpor that eating, speaking, walking or even opening
the eyes call for an unsurmountable effort. At night they suffer
insomnia and during the day are exhausted by periods of sleep-like
unconsciousness. Finally, patients fall into a deep coma and die.


Medication for the treatment of West African trypanosomiasis
is available. Treatment of West African trypanosomiasis should
begin as soon as possible and is based on the infected person’s
laboratory results....

Similar Essays