African sleeping sickness, also known as trypanosomiasis and human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), is a parasitic infection carried by tsetse, also known as tsetse flies.

There are two different versions of the condition, each caused by parasites that are different in their location.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), both strains are fatal if their infections aren’t treated promptly.

Medical emergency

“African sleeping sickness affects a lot fewer people than it did a decade or two ago, but it still poses a risk to a large portion of the world’s population.”

If you think you have African sleeping sickness, read on to learn more about how it is transmitted, what symptoms you should look for, and what to do if you do.

African sleeping sickness can be difficult to diagnose in the first stage when symptoms are relatively common and can mimic other less serious conditions. They can include:

The second stage is when parasites move from the blood to the brain and cause more serious neurological symptoms.

  • insomnia
  • It is daytime.
  • Motor skills are lost.
  • There is confusion.
  • There are feelings of hallucinations.
  • Behavioral changes.
  • Seizures.
  • Sometimes progressive drowsiness leads to a coma.

The parasite that causes African sleeping sickness is native to 36 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which are home to 65 million people. The tsetse fly thrives in rural areas, many of which lack adequate medical care, fresh water, and sanitation.

People who live near or visit the forests or grassland where tsetse flies are common are most at risk of contracting the parasites. Cattle are often carriers of the disease.

International efforts have been successful recently in containing African sleeping sickness. The World Health Organization reported only 100 cases of the Eastern version and 600 cases of the Western variety in 2020. About 70% of cases that year were in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Only 40 Americans have developed African sleeping sickness since 1967.

It is important to catch African sleeping sickness before it gets worse. The initial symptoms can mimic diseases that are less serious.

If you have been bitten by a fly in any of the countries, you should seek treatment immediately. If you experience any of the more severe symptoms associated with the second stage of African sleeping sickness, this is important.

A non-healing There is a skin ulcer. with swollen glands nearby should prompt a visit to a doctor right away.

Blood tests are available for West African sleeping sickness. Sometimes, more invasive tests like an extraction of lymph fluid or a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) may be necessary.

There are a lot of questions about African sleeping sickness.

What causes African sleeping sickness (Trypanosomiasis)?

African sleeping sickness is caused by an infection from the parasite Trypanosoma brucei. The invader first targets the blood, lymph nodes, and fatty tissues in the body.

The condition becomes more dangerous when the parasites enter the central nervous system. Major disruptions to both voluntary and involuntary body functions are caused by this.

How many types of African sleeping sickness are there?

There are two types of African sleeping sickness. The parasite Trypanosoma brucei gambiense causes the far more common Western form, and its cousin Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense is responsible for the Eastern version. All 40 cases that have made their way to the United States were the East African type.

West African sleeping sickness usually takes from 300 to 500 days to move from stage 1 to stage 2. East African sleeping sickness develops much more rapidly, in 21 to 60 days, but it’s only responsible for 3% of the world’s current cases.

Many cases go unreported because of the same economic and geographic issues that make diagnosis and treatment difficult.

How is African sleeping sickness spread?

People get African sleeping sickness after being bitten by a tsetse fly. In rare cases, the condition has been passed from mother to child through sexual contact.

Is African sleeping sickness a serious condition?

While the medical community has made progress in recent years, African sleeping sickness is still a very dangerous and potentially fatal disease. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reported 1,360 deaths in 2019, a 77% drop since 2010.

How is African sleeping sickness treated?

The treatment for African sleeping sickness varies depending on whether the person is in the Eastern or Western part of the world.

The first stage of sleeping sickness in West African is treated with the drug pentamidine, while the early stages of sleeping sickness in East African are treated with suramin. Only one drug can be used for research in the United States, and that is pentamidine.

Older treatments for the second stage, like melarsoprol and eflornithine, have been mostly abandoned in favor of a combination of eflornithine and nifurtimox, known as NECT. It was first used in 2009.

fexinidazole is a newer treatment for sleeping sickness. It was approved for use in West African sleeping sickness in 2019. It is currently being used against the Eastern version.

Global healthcare providers have succeeded in recent years in fighting the spread of African sleeping sickness. The number of worldwide cases dropped from more than 30,000 in 1998 to around 700 in 2020.

International health organizations still face geographic and economic challenges in treating rare and fatal diseases, but they have made significant progress.