African trypanosomiasis

African sleeping sickness

What is this disease?

Is a parasitic disease of people and animals, caused by protozoa of the species trypanosoma brucei and transmitted by the tsetse fly.

Sings and Symptoms!

The first stage, known as the haemolymphatic phase, is characterized by fever, headaches, joint pains, and itching. Invasion of the circulatory and lymphatic systems by the parasites is associated with severe swelling of lymph nodes, often to tremendous sizes.
The second, the neurological phase, begins when the parasite invades the central nervous system by passing through the blood-brain barrier. The term 'sleeping sickness' comes from the symptoms of the neurological phase. The symptoms include confusion, reduced coordination, and disruption of the sleep cycle, with bouts of fatigue punctuated with manic periods, leading to daytime slumber and night-time insomnia.

How they LOOK!

Life Cycle


The Glossina (fly) is a large, brown, biting fly that serves as both a host and vector for the trypanosome parasites. While taking blood from a mammalian host, an infected tsetse fly injects metacyclic trypomastigotes into skin tissue. From the bite, parasites first enter the lymphatic system and then pass into the bloodstream. Inside the mammalian host, they transform into bloodstream trypomastigotes, and are carried to other sites throughout the body, reach other body fluids, and continue to replicate by binary fission.The entire life cycle of African trypanosomes is represented by extracellular stages. A 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.

Degree of Damage!

The disease is endemic in some regions of sub-Sahara Africa, covering areas in about 37 countries containing more than 60 million people. An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 people are currently infected, the number having declined somewhat in recent years. The number of reported cases was below 10,000 in 2009, the first time in 50 years. Many cases are believed to go unreported. About 48,000 people died of it in 2008.

where are they found!

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. T. b. gambiense is found in central and western Africa; it causes a chronic condition that can remain in a passive phase for months or years before symptoms emerge. T. b. rhodesiense is the acute form of the disease, but has a much more limited geographic range, being found in southern and eastern Africa.
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The current standard treatment for first-stage (haemolymphatic) disease is intravenous or intramusculular pentadimine, or intravenous suramin.

The drug eflornithine previously used only as an alternative treatment for sleeping sickness due to its labour intensive administration was found to be safe and effective as a first-line treatment for the disease in 2008, according to the Science and Development Network's sub-Saharan Africa news updates.

According to a treatment study of Trypanosoma gambiense caused human African trypanosomiasis, use of eflornithine resulted in fewer adverse events than treatment with merlaprosol.

Interesting Facts!

1. It causes severe personality changes
2. It causes the person to sleep more and more and more until finally....
3. The disease takes a long time to develop 2 - 4 years
4. The microorganism that causes the disease can hide from your immune system by changing the way it looks every two weeks. Its like it wears a disquise to hide from your body.
5. African sleeping sickness is totally preventable. All we have to do is lower the numbers of the vector, mosquitos.
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Valerie del Carmen Contreras Gomez