What is African Sleeping Sickness

african sleeping sickness
Tsetse fly

What is African sleeping sickness?

African sleeping sickness also called African trypanosomiasis is a parasitic disease of humans and many other animals, African sleeping sickness is caused by an insect thus making it an insect borne illness which is caused by a tsetse fly carrying the African trypanosomiasis parasites. The tsetse flies are commonly found in the sub-Saharan Africa especially in Democratic republic of Congo and is greatly responsible for causing African trypanosomiasis .

These flies when infected by either Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense or Trypanosoma brucei gambiense parasite becomes a part in the African sleeping sickness parasite’s lifecycle. There are many reported cases of
African trypanosomiasis and mostly in rural areas caused by an infected tsetse fly bite




African Sleeping Sickness Transmission

African sleeping sickness is caused by an infected tsetse flies (big brown fly) that is a host to the parasite itself. The fly pierces the skin tissue when it bites and the parasite enters the lymphatic system and later passes into the bloodstream from there. African trypanosomiasis can also rarely occur by organ transplant, blood transfusion & from mother to unborn child during pregnancy or at the time of delivery.

Also Read: Prevention of Malaria – Fight Malaria Symptoms


African Sleeping Sickness Symptoms

Symptoms includes

Stage one:

  • Headaches
  • Joint Pain
  • Itching
  • Intermittent Fever

Stage two: (when the parasite invades the CNS (central nervous system)

  • Disruption of the sleep cycle (It gave the name sleeping sickness)
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Apathy
  • Psychotic reactions
  • Irritability

African Sleeping Sickness Treatment

Treatment of African trypanosomiasis is available but is highly dependent on the stage of the illness present. Intravenous of intramuscular are used for the treatment of the disease, pentamidine for gambiense and Suramin for rhodesiense parasite.

Travelers Risk

The risk of acquiring African trypanosomiasis for travelers is quite low but be careful when living or staying in the rural areas of the sub-Saharan Africa or where there is some thick vegetation present. Visitors in the city are usually not at risk of the African sleeping sickness infection.

Also Read: The Flesh-Eating Botflies

African Sleeping Sickness Prevention

Now we that African sleeping is caused by an infected tsetse fly so lets talk about how to prevent it.

  • Avoid bushes and plants at day time as its when the tsetse fly rest on the plants.
  • The tsetse fly is very attracted to bright colors so avoid wearing bright colors.
  • Must wear insect repellent However there is not much proof that insect repellent works with tsetse flies.
  • Stay and live places that are fully air conditioned.
  • The tsetse flies are also attracting to moving objects so be sure to check your vehicles.

One thought on “What is African Sleeping Sickness”

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