African Sleeping Sickness : What is it really about?

African Sleeping Sickness : What is it really about?

If you are looking for cool information on African Sleeping Sickness, this is your one stop shop. Read on. African sleeping sickness, also known as Trypanosomiasis is a parasitic disease caused by protozoa Trypanosomabrucei and is transmitted by Tsetse Fly.

Thedisease is particular to Africa, especially Sub-SaharanAfrica. The disease has decreased over the years but 50,000to 70,000 people are currently infected. The sickness iscaused by a parasite and can be transmitted by the bite of a Tsetse Fly. Thereare two types of this disease, West African Trypanosomiasis  and East African Trypanosomiasis. WestAfrican Trypanosomiasis is chronic and can last many years and it iscaused by the parasite Trypanosoma brucei gambiense. East AfricanTrypanosomiasis can  last weeks and iscaused by Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense.Three major epidemics have ever occurred. The first one was from 1896–1906 ,followed by the  second one in 1920 and1970. The last one was in Uganda in 2008. African Nations most affected are:

  • Uganda
  • Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • Ethiopia
  • Zaire
  • Zimbabwe
  • Malawi
  • Botswana

Tsetse flies inhabit rural areas and dense vegetations, sourban dwellers are not  liable to beinfected.

Sleeping Sickness Symptoms.
First Phase.
As the Tsetse Fly bites, the parasite enters the blood andlymph systems and the lymph nodes swell to tremendous sizes. Among  the symptoms of this disease, the most empathicis the Winterbottom'ssign, in which swollen lymph nodes appear at the backof the neck. If the patient goes untreated for a long time, the parasite beginsto shut down the body’s defensive system and symptoms such as anaemia, endocrine,cardiac, and kidney disease may set in.

Second Phase.
The symptom of the second phase gives the disease its name. Besides confusion and reduced concentration itcomes with heavy fatigue which induces daytime sleep and insomnia at night .Thisdisease if not treated in time can lead to mental decline and permanent braindamage and eventually death. There have also been cases of mother to child infection.The parasite can infect the baby in the womb and cause it’s death. Anothercause is blood transfusion.

These symptoms usually occur within 1-4 weeks of infectionand come with many symptoms including, fever, skin lesions, rash, edema, orswollen lymph nodes on the back of the neck. The infection can laterdegenerate into meningoencephalitis. General Symptoms of AfricanSleeping Sickness include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Skin rash
  • Aching joints
  • Severe headaches
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures
  • progressive confusion
  • loss of concentration
  • irritability
  • difficulty walking and talking
  • Sleepiness
  • Lethargy
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Coma
  • Anaemia
  • Enlarged lymph glands
  • Central nervous system symptoms
  • Convulsions
  • Lymphadenopathy
  • Myocarditis
  • Brain symptoms
  • Malaise
  • Skin eruptions
  • Aching muscles
  • Tremors
  • Personality changes
  • Chancre
  • Irritability
  • Red sore
  • Coma
  • Death

To mention just a few. Death can occur within several weeks tomonths.

Once you notice that you are infected with the disease, youshould seek medical attention immediately. Based on a number of criteria including your :

  • Medical History
  • Your Age and present medical condition
  • Extent of the disease

The medical officer can determine the cause of action intreating you.  According to Wikipedia thetreatment usually comes in two stages depending on the extent to which theillness has progressed.

The first standard treatments in stage one are ,

  •  Intravenous pentamidine (for T.b. gambiense); or
  • Intravenous suramin (for T.b.rhodesiense)

The first standard treatments in stage two are ,

  • Intravenous melarsoprol 2.2 mg/kg daily for 10 consecutive days. or
  • Intravenous melarsoprol 0.6 mg/kg on day1, 1.2 mg/kg iv melarsoprol on day 2, and 1.2 mg/kg/day iv melarsoprol combinedwith oral 7.5 mg/kg nifurtimox twice a day on days 3 to 10;
  • Intravenous eflornithine 50 mg/kg every six hours for 14 days.

African sleeping sickness is curable. It hardly occurs inside the US, except in cases of Americans visiting African game parks andgetting the infection. Normal insecticides don’t work against Tsetse flies andthey are attracted to contrasting colors and fast moving objects.Presently there is no vaccine against sleeping sickness.Moves havebeen made by the WHO and UN to wipe out  African sleeping sickness and research is goingon to help curb the illness and if possible eradicate it.

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