All about Sleeping Sickness in Africa


by Gloria Ezeh

I have been sleeping a lot lately so I feel it is nice I tell you all about this disease:

Sleeping sickness, also called “human African trypanosomiasis”, is a widespread tropical disease that can be fatal if not treated.

It is spread by the bite of an infected tsetse fly (Picture below), an insect native to the African continent.

Sixty million people who live mainly in rural parts of East, West and Central Africa are at risk of contracting sleeping sickness.

The tsetse fly bite erupts into a red sore and within a few weeks the person can experience fever, swollen lymph glands, aching muscles and joints, headaches and irritability.

In advanced stages, the disease attacks the central nervous system and people begin to experience changes in personality, excessive sleeping, confusion, slurred speech, seizures and difficulty in walking and talking.

These problems can develop over many years and if not treated, the person dies.

The main approaches to controlling this deadly African disease are to reduce the reservoirs of infection and the presence of the tsetse fly.

Screening of people at risk helps identify patients at an early stage.

Diagnosis should be made as early as possible and before the advanced stage to avoid complicated, difficult and risky treatment procedures. 

Source: WHO

That said, I think I’m beginning to feel a little nauseous too. Might not be sleeping sickness after all!

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