African Trypanosomiasis (Sleeping Sickness)
Travel Health

From: Travel Health Information and Advice

African Trypanosomiasis (Sleeping Sickness)
African Trypanosomiasis is a parasitic disease that is transmitted by the tsetse fly. There are two types of the disease, East African Trypanosomiasis and West African Trypanosomiasis.

Symptoms of the first stage of the disease
Once bitten by an infected fly, symptoms will usually start to show after about 3 weeks.

Symptoms of the second stage of the disease
During the second stage the central nervous system is affected.

How African Trypanosomiasis is Spread
The disease is largely spread from the bite of a tsetse fly, however the disease can also cross the placenta of pregnant women thereby infecting their unborn child and can also be spread via a contaminated blood transfusion.

Affected Areas
African Trypanosomiasis is limited to rural populations within sub-Saharan African countries where the tsetse fly can be found.

Test For African Trypanosomiasis
Testing for African Trypanosomiasis is achieved through checking for clinical signs of the disease, testing the blood, chancre fluid and in the second stage of the disease examining cerebrospinal fluid.

How To Help Prevent African Trypanosomiasis
Ongoing strategies to eradicate the tsetse fly to help prevent thee disease from spreading is underway as well as monitoring and treating people currently infected. Try to wear plenty of insect repellent and cover up as much as possible with medium weight fabrics that are fairly neutral in colour as the tsetse fly is attracted to very bright and very dark colours. Be aware also that the flies are attracted to moving vehicles.

The disease is considered fatal if left untreated and early detection and treatment is essential to offer the best prospect for a positive outcome. The disease has different treatments available depending on the stage that the disease is at.

Patients who receive successful treatment for the disease should have regular follow up tests on their cerebrospinal fluid for two years afterwards to ensure that they remain clear of the disease.