West African Sleeping Sickness

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Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) is more commonly known as African sleeping sickness. This disease is caused by tsetse flies that have been infected with a parasite that is then transmitted to humans via the tsetse fly’s bite. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are two types of HAT: East African Sleeping Sickness and West African Sleeping sickness, depending on the location of Africa one is in when they become infected. Typically, East African Sleeping Sickness is infected with the T. b. rhodesiense parasite and the disease progresses really quickly. West African Sleeping Sickness is an infection of the T. b. gambiense parasite and progresses much more slowly. In either case, the disease has two stages:…show more content…
It typically occurs 1-2 weeks after the bite occurs. After a few more weeks, the parasite is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and begins affecting the central nervous system (CNS), causing neurological breakdown, change of level of consciousness and behavior, and ultimately leads to coma and death within months. West African Sleeping Sickness possesses the same initial symptoms, only milder and less alarming. After about 1-2 years after the exposure is when the parasite crosses the blood-brain barrier and affects the CNS causing many changes to personality, sleeping preferences, confusion, and partial paralysis. This form of the disease will lead to coma and death within about three years on average (Parasites,…show more content…
Abel, and Sanjeev Krishna (2002) describe as “a plague for people in endemic areas but also as a threat to travelers in rural Africa” (p. 203). They also describe the medical care in the areas to be neglected, people are poor and left untreated. In addition to people, other animals, such as cattle, are being infected and therefore, sources of income are being compromised due to this parasitic infection. Another huge risk is with all of the violence in the area, many people may be forced to flee their homes and into the rural parts of Africa, where the tsetse flies are- therefore increasing their risk and decreasing their ability to seek medical attention. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are thirty-six sub-Saharan countries in Africa that are affected by this disease, putting millions of people at risk in rural areas where healthcare is low and poverty, war, and rural areas are high. They also say that during the most recent epidemic, during the 1970s-1990s, 50% of people in several villages were diagnosed and it became the second leading cause of death, even higher than HIV/AIDS. As of now, the total number of reported cases is less than 10,000, 70% being in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who reported over 1,000 new cases each year, which comprises 89% of cases reported in 2013 (WHO, 2015). Of course, these

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