- "Sleeping sickness" is also another name for Narcolepsy.
People get African trypanosomiasis from the tsetse fly. Because of this, it is most common in certain areas of Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, where the tsetse fly lives. Researchers say that about 70 million people, in 36 countries, are at a high risk for getting sleeping sickness. As of 2010, sleeping sickness had caused around 9,000 deaths per year (compared to 34,000 in 1990).
In 2013, about 30,000 people had African trypanosomiasis. Also, about 7,000 more people were getting the disease every year. More than 80% of these people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Medications can treat African trypanosomiasis. The treatment is usually done in a hospital, because the drugs have many side effects. For sleeping sickness that was not treated early, the medications used for treatment are based on arsenic, a poison. These medications are dangerous, and about 5% of people die from taking them.
The best way to protect against African trypanosomiasis is to protect against insect bites.
Signs and symptoms
The signs and symptoms of African trypanosomiasis happen in two stages.
The hemolyphatic phase
Common symptoms in this stage include:
- A fever that comes and goes
- Pain in the joints
- Lymphadenopathy: As the parasite gets into the lymphatic system, the body's lymph nodes swell, sometimes to very large sizes
- A chancre (red sore) where the person was bitten by the tsetse fly (sometimes)
The neurological phase
In this stage, one of the most common symptoms is trouble sleeping. This is where the name "sleeping sickness" comes from. People in this stage often cannot sleep normally, and may be up all night and then sleep during the day..
Other symptoms in this stage can include:
- Mental confusion
- Muscle weakness
- Weakness or paralysis of an arm or leg
- Movements that the person cannot control, like a person with Parkinson syndrome
- Feeling easily annoyed or being aggressive
Without treatment, a person with African sleeping sickness will go into a coma; (thus the name) all their important organs will stop working; and they will die.Damage caused in the neurological phase cannot be fixed.
Sleeping sickness Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.