'Sleeping Sickness' Human African Trypanosomiasis

Topics: Immune system, African trypanosomiasis, Trypanosoma brucei Pages: 3 (1057 words) Published: May 12, 2007
The name sleeping sickness is a vague description of just one of the symptoms caused by the parasite trypanosome brucei. Human African Trypanosomiasis is what the disease is more commonly referred to, and is found in a confined part of the vast continent Africa. More specifically the sub-Sahara region. Human African Trypanosomiasis is one of the most neglected tropical infections that is re-emerging as a public health issue in most parts of rural Africa. It is caused by a protozoan called trypanosome brucei, which is a sub species of the trypanosome parasite. The vector-borne parasite is transmitted through the bite of tsetse fly when animals and humans become in contact with the fly. The single celled protozoa have complex life cycle spent partly in the tsetse fly and partly in the mammalian bloodstream. Human African trypanosomiasis is responsible for infecting and attacking more than 10,000 people each year and kills hundreds of thousands of domesticated animals and prevents livestock production in many areas of Africa. About 500,000 people already carry the trypanosome parasite and will die if left untreated, which is commonly the case as many people are unable to seek treatment. There are two types of African sleeping sickness in which the trypanosome parasite exists in – the East African trypanosomiasis and the west trypanosomiasis. The East African trypanosomiasis is caused by the trypanosome brucei rhodesiense, while the West African trypanosomiasis is caused by a similar parasite called trypanosome brucei gambiense. I will be focusing more on the East African trypanosomiasis as it is most commonly found in infected people and animals.

Human African trypanosomiasis is disease that evolves through distinct clinical stages, with a fatal outcome if symptoms persist and is left untreated. The disease develops as a result of protozoa being carried through the blood and lymphatic circulation of the host, and is characterised by a fever which rises...
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