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African Trypanosomiasis

African Trypanosomiasis or called the “Sleeping Sickness”. It’s a disease, transmitted by the “Tsetse fly” (Glossina Specie) to human. “Tsetse Fly” the word tsetse means to fly. It is an African bloodsucking fly that bites human and feeds on the blood. The Tsetse fly is like house flies but can identify by noticing their characteristic.

There are two types of Sleeping Sickness:

  • Trypanosoma Brucei Rhodesiense
  • Trypanosoma Brucei Gambiense

These types of Sleeping sickness carried by the Tsetse flies have been a serious problem for Africans. Each year, a few hundred cases are being reported to WHO. 40 cases of East African trypanosomiasis have treated in the U.S among person had traveled to East Africa. In recent years, this disease has a number of 7,000-10,000 reported new cases. Travelers visited in East and West Africa can affect this disease.


The risk factors of this disease are the people living in parts of Africa where there is Tsetse fly. Travelers who have visited this place can be at risk. The following are the risk factors:

  • A resident living in Central and South America
  • Living in old houses
  • Wall construction that composes of mud, straw roofs, and sticks
  • Contaminated water intake
  • Poverty
  • Living in a hut with bugs live in the walls too
  • To receive an organ donation from a person in a growing region
  • Cracked Nipples of the mother during breastfeeding
  • Vertical transmission
  • Laboratories and Blood transfusion


The Sleeping Sickness has two stages:

  1. Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense– It develops quickly if a person has been bitten by Tsetse fly. Different symptoms may develop such as fever, muscles and joint aches. Some may develop rashes. And if it enters the nervous system, it may result in death.
  2. Trypanosoma brucei gambiense – It develops slowly. A person may experience mild symptoms which in Trypanosoma B. rhodesience. If this enters the nervous system, a person may feel sleepy during the daytime. And have a nighttime disturbance. This can result in paralysis and other neurologic problems. The condition lasts for 6-7 years and often kills a person in 3 years.


Sleeping sickness is difficult to treat. A person who is infected should give and receive a treatment. The treatment will depend on the type of infection a person has and it depends on the stage. Pentamidine – is a drug for the first stage in T. b. gambiense infection which is available in the U.S

Physicians can consult for an advice in CDC regarding the diagnosis and treatment. However, there is no cure for Sleeping sickness. Patients should undergo a series of test to make sure that the condition no longer exists.


The preventive measure can help to get rid of Tsetse flies. The resident of affected areas must practice these helpful measures:

  • Wearing of long-sleeves and pants that is neutral in color that blends with the background. Tsetse flies get attracted to dark color.
  • Inspection of vehicles before entering.
  • Avoid bushes
  • The use of insect repellent to prevent them from entering your home.

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