The silent killer known as 'sleeping sickness'/ Key signs

2023-09-10 17:04:00, Sociale CNA

The silent killer known as 'sleeping sickness'/ Key signs

The World Health Organization has warned people about the dangers of contracting a disease commonly known as "sleeping sickness", which can be fatal without treatment, The Mirror reports.

Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) is transmitted to humans by the bite of Tsetse flies which have picked up the parasites from infected humans or animals. These flies live in sub-Saharan Africa and only a few species transmit the disease.

The most exposed populations are those living in rural areas and dependent on agriculture, fishing, livestock or hunting. Travelers who spend a lot of time outdoors or visit game parks in sub-Saharan Africa are also at risk of infection. There is no vaccine or medicine that prevents African trypanosomiasis.

The main symptoms of the condition are fatigue, high temperature, headache and muscle pain. If left untreated, the disease can cause death. 

The other form is Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, which is found in 13 countries in eastern and southern Africa, accounts for 8% of reported cases, and causes an acute illness. The first symptoms appear weeks or months after infection and the disease progresses quickly, often invading other organs including the brain.

Treatment options depend on the form of the disease and its stage. 

In 2021, the WHO reported 747 of the predominant form of HAT, up from more than 37,000 in 1998. José Ramón Franco, a Geneva-based WHO medical officer, said: "We are making very good progress, but [not] we have reached the last mile."/ CNA

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