See what questions
a doctor would ask.
Article title: West African Trypanosomiasis: DPD
There are two types of African trypanosomiasis, also called sleeping sickness, named for the areas in Africa in which they are found. West African trypanosomiasis, also called Gambian sleeping sickness, is caused by a parasite called Trypanosoma brucei gambiense (tri-PAN-o-SO-ma brew-see-eye gam-be-ense). Worldwide, 20,000 new cases of both East and West African trypanosomiasis are reported each year. Few cases of West African trypanosomiasis have been reported in the United States.
Yes. If left untreated, death will occur.
A bite by the tsetse fly is often painful. Occasionally, 1-2 weeks after the tsetse fly bite, a red sore, also called a chancre (SHAN-ker) appears at the site of the infective bite. Several weeks to months later, other symptoms of sleeping sickness occur. These include fever, rash, swelling around the eye and hands, severe headaches, extreme fatigue, aching muscles and joints. You may develop swollen lymph nodes on the back of your neck called Winterbottom's sign. Weight loss occurs as the illness progresses. Personality changes, irritability, loss of concentration, progressive confusion, slurred speech, seizures, and difficulty in walking and talking occurs when infection has invaded the central nervous system. These symptoms become worse as illness progresses. Sleeping for long periods of the day and having insomnia at night is a common symptom. If left untreated, infection becomes worse and death will occur within several months to years after infection.
Symptoms occur within months to years after infection.
There is neither a vaccine nor recommended drug available to prevent West African trypanosomiasis.
See your health care provider who will order several tests to look for the parasite. Common tests include blood samples and a spinal tap. Your physician may also take a sample of fluid from swollen lymph nodes.
Treatment should be started as soon as possible and is based on the infected personís symptoms and laboratory results. Medication for the treatment of West African trypanosomiasis is available. Hospitalization for treatment is necessary and periodic follow-up exams that include a spinal tap are required for 2 years.
West African trypanosomiasis can be contracted in parts of Western and Central Africa; see the map for areas where illness can be found. The tsetse fly lives only in Africa; areas where infection is spread are largely determined by where the infected tsetse fly is found.
Tsetse flies can be found in Western and Central African forests, in areas of thick shrubbery and trees by rivers and waterholes. Risk of infection increases with the number of times a person is bitten by the tsetse fly. Therefore, tourists are not at great risk for contracting West African trypanosomiasis unless they are traveling and spending long periods of time in rural areas of Western and Central Africa.
This fact sheet is for information only and is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you have any questions about the disease described above or think that you may have a parasitic infection, consult a health care provider.
Search Specialists by State and City