Trypanosomiasis – Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Human African Trypanosomiasis also is known as sleeping sickness is a disease caused by a group of parasites called Trypanosoma Brucei. The two main types causing this human disease are Trypanosoma Brucei Gambiensi and Rhodesian sea. There are other types of Trypanosoma Brucei which cause animal disease and very occasionally, in fact, human changes also called American Trypanosomiasis Isis is a different disease caused by Trypanosoma cruzi Gambian C is the most common form of African Trypanosomiasis accounting for about 97% of all cases.


It’s found in the countries in central and west Africa and tends to cause the chronic form of disease Roby’s the Nz accounts for about three percent of cases it’s found in the countries in eastern and southern Africa and causes a more acute infection.

Although there were about 300000 estimated cases in 1995. Intense control activities in affected countries have led to a dramatic decline in cases in 2014 the number of cases was estimated to be 15000. Let’s have a look at how the diseases are transmitted.

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The parasite is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Sipsey fly these fly are only found in sub-Saharan Africa. Most commonly in the rural areas, both female and male flies can transmit the infection these flies tends to bite in the daylight hours. Flies can be infected when they bite a person or animal infected with the parasite.

A domestic and wild animal can carry the parasite and are an important reservoir of infection especially the Rhodesians. Human is the main reservoir of the Gambiensi very uncommon lee the infection can be transmitted from mother to the fetus ( baby ) or through blood transfusion, infected needles and syringes or sexually.


There are two main stages of this disease in the first or early stage the parasite is found outside the central nervous system mainly in the blood, lymphatic system or the other organs such as the heart liver spleen or eye. In the second or late stage the parasite invades the central nervous system, initially, there can be a painful sore also called chancre at the site of the taxi fly bite.

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symptoms of the first stage are:-

  • Fever
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Headaches
  • Itching near the area of the bite
  • Enlarged lymph nodes

It can lead to disease in the affected organs such as inflammation of the heart muscle, enlargement of the spleen, eye, and liver.

In the second stage, there can be a range of neurological symptoms such as changes in personality, psychiatric symptoms weakness and the problem with movement. The disease can affect sleep patients tend to have nighttime sleep disturbance and are sleepy during the day. this can get progressively worse with the patient sleepy most of the time.

This is why the disease is called sleeping sickness. If left untreated the disease can lead to death. The severity of the disease and how quickly the disease progresses from the first stage to the second stage depends on the type of the parasite in rhodesiensi infection it’s quite fast, Usually a few weeks, on the other hand in Gambiensi infection it may take several years. People who get infected may not have symptoms for months if not years when they do there are usually on the second stage.

The disease is diagnosed by laboratory techniques usually by examining the blood under the microscope and looking for the parasite. This usually works well for roadies ENC infection but harder to do for the Gambiensi infections the classic method of diagnosing the Gambiensi infection is by examining the fluid from the lymph node under the microscope.

Second stage infections can be diagnosed by examining cerebrospinal fluid blood tests that look for antibodies against the parasite can sometimes be used. There is a test called card agglutination test that is used for screening for people with infections. This test only works for people with Gambiensi infection. PCR test that looks for the genetic fingerprint of the parasite can also be used.


There’s a limited range of effective medication available to treat the disease. The type of medication used will depend on the type of parasite and the stage of the disease. The disease is harder to treat once it’s progressed to the second stage the medication used is more toxic complication to administer.


There are two types of measures for the prevention of this disease. They are individual measures and community measures.

At an individual level, preventive measures focus on avoiding contact with the pet supplies these includes wearing appropriate clothing that covers exposed parts of the body avoiding bushes in the areas that pet supplies are known to live insects repellent are not that effective against these flies but may prevent other insect fights that may cause other diseases these measures may not always be possible to do for people living and working in these areas there is no vaccine or preventive drugs that can be taken to stop people getting the disease.

Intense efforts to control the disease have been led by the World Health Organization notional sleeping sickness control program and others such as pharmaceutical companies and non-governmental organizations.

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They focus on two areas reducing the number of people with disease and controlling Tetsu flies reducing the number people with disease need good surveillance diagnosis and treatment that is effective prompt and accessible controlling tipsy flies is usually done by incest aside and pregnant traps an application of insecticides to the resting sites of flies controlling the disease and animal reservoir is generally hard to do

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