Infectious Diseases

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  • Topic: Malaria, Mosquito, Fever
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  • Published : April 10, 2012
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| | |PLT 300 Term Paper | |Infectious Diseases | | |

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African trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness as many call it is a parasitic disease that can be contracted by either human or animals. The disease is transmitted by the tsetse fly which can be found all over Africa but the ones contaminated with the disease are found in region of sub-Saharan Africa. The disease has been said to have been in Africa since way back in the 14th century and one of the first epidemics that was recorded happened in 1901 in which a "devastating epidemic had erupted in Uganda, killing more than 250,000 people, about two-thirds of the population in the affected lake-shore areas" (CDC). According to the World Health Organization the disease covers 36 countries and 60 million people. The majority of the affected population live in remote areas of sub-Saharan Africa with little access to health care clinics which is why in these rural area the disease often goes untreated and misdiagnosed.

The distribution of African trypanosomiasis is related to where the Tsetse fly lives which happens to be many parts of Africa. Not all species of Tsetse flies transmit the disease and there is no explanation of why certain regions with populations of Tsetse flies do not have a trace of the sleeping sickness disease.  According to the WHO "The disease develops in areas ranging from a single village to an entire region. Within an infected area, the intensity of the disease can vary from one village to the next". Of the 60 million or so people in threat of obtaining the disease each year only few cases in relation to that number will be reported so many believe since the disease occurs in predominately remote areas many cases are going undiagnosed.

There are two forms of human African trypanosomiasis depending on the parasite "Trypanosoma brucei gambiense (T.b.g.) is found in west and central Africa...and Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense (T.b.r.) is found in eastern and southern Africa" (WHO). Of the two T.b.g. currently accounts for 95% of reported cases and the other form T.b.r. currently only accounts for 5% of reported cases. The main way the disease is contracted is from a bite of an infected tsetse fly but that is not the only way. The WHO lists that a pregnant mother can pass on the infection to a fetus, in some instances other blood sucking insects have transmitted the disease as well as accidental infections from pricks of contaminated needles. In the first stafe of infection, the haemolymphatic phase, the trypanosomes multiply which causes fever, headaches, joint pain and itching. In the second stage known as the neurological phase the parasites infect the central nervous system which causes "changes of behavior, confusion, sensory disturbances and poor coordination and disturbance of the sleep cycle, which gives the disease its name" (WHO).

The two forms of the disease have different impacts on the infected individuals health and livelihood. The more common form of the parasite T.b.g. causes a chronic infection. A person infected with this form of the disease can be infected for months or years without any major signs or symptoms and when the symptoms do emerge the patient is already in the second stage of the disease. The other form of the disease T.b.r....
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