The Sleeping Sickness

Topics: African trypanosomiasis, Trypanosoma brucei, Tsetse fly Pages: 4 (1508 words) Published: May 18, 2012
Human African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness, is a deadly blood disease and is a daily threat to millions of men and women in undeveloped countries around the world. More specifically, more than 60 million people in 26 countries of sub-Saharan Africa are at risk for catching the disease, and around 500,000 people will start to develop the disease each year1. Unfortunately, if the disease is not treated than it can lead to a fatal death. In about twenty African countries, trypanosomiasis is one of the major public health problems1. These outbreaks greatly test individuals and families and disrupt the local economy3. They are a serious handicap to populations and countries striving for lasting social and economic development3. The farmers, shepherds, herdsmen and hunters of the rural community are most exposed to sleeping sickness, though occasional visitors such as merchants, travelers and tourists are also at risk3. Sleeping sickness is caused by trypanosomes, which are protozoan parasites that are delivered to your blood stream by tsetse fly (Glossina Genus) bites2. These dangerous tsetse flies live in Africa and can be found by rivers, lakes, forests, and savannahs2. There is actually two parasite subspecies that cause trypanosomiasis infection known as; trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense (T.b.r.), which causes acute illness lasting several weeks in countries of eastern and southern Africa and trypanosomoa brucei gambiense (T.b.g.), which causes a chronic infection lasting years and affecting countries of western and central Africa3. T.b.g. is the most common because it is found in 95% of sleeping sickness cases, compared to the other parasite and the T.b.g. needs two hosts in order to live and reproduce, and its life cycle starts once an infected tsetse fly bites human skin5. The two hosts are an insect vector and mammalian host and due to the large difference between these hosts the trypanosome undergoes complex changes during its life...
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