Trypanosomiasis is sometimes referred to as the sleeping sickness disease. It is a condition believed to have been in existence in Africa for several centuries and years way before the 14th century. The causative vector or agent was discovered in the years between 1902-1903 by Sir David Bruce. The differentiation of the subspecies protozoa was therefore done in the year 1920, while the very first effective drug for treating the disease was developed in the year 1910 by Sir Kiyoshi Shiga and Paul Ehrlich (Brian, 2004). This drug was later discarded for it side effects which were believed to lead to night blindness. Since then there has been several trials for coming up with curative drugs for the disease and numerous vaccines and drugs have also been developed towards this effect. The parasite causing the disease is known as tsetse fly. It attacks the human subjects through a bite and it spreads the infectious agents to various parts of the body such as the brain and the meninges which is the covering of the brain and the spinal cord (James, 1999). The disease begins to develop slowly and the symptoms might not be that visible until at a particular stage where it proves to be fatal if not treated early.
Africa has faced enough episodes of infection by the disease in the recent history and one significant example occurred between 1896 to 1906 in the Congo basin and Uganda. There has been other instance in the 1920s around several other African countries. Apparently towards the end of the 1920s, the infection rate slowed down a bit since there were several mobile teams who were going round the countries screening subjects deemed to be at risk. However, the disease had drastically disappeared within the years 1960 1965 (John, 2000).  This state was achieved following the success of the mobile screening team which had tracked down all possible infections and responded to them appropriately. However, the team relaxed a bit after they had observed that the disease had declined. Three decades later it emerged in an endemic form in several African countries
     The fly and the parasite causing the disease are more rampant in Africa and in a very broad belt across and around the Equator. Various reports from different health organizations indicate that since 2005, major outbreaks of the disease have been observed in several African countries within the equatorial region such as the democratic republic of Congo, Sudan and Angola (Hoppe, 2001). In central Africa the disease has also been observed in various countries such as Malawi, Chad, Uganda, Tanzania, and Cote dIvoire and the disease remains to be a major public heath challenge to these populations
The Human African Trypanosomiasis exists in two forms depending on the parasite spreading the infectious agents. The first one is referred to as the Trypanosome brucei rhodesiense (T.b.r) which is more rampant across southern and eastern Africa (John, 2000). This disease causes acute infection of sleeping sickness and it represents not less than 10 of the reported cases. The signs and symptoms for this kind of a disease are easily observed and they begin to manifest themselves a few days or weeks after infection. The disease spreads so rapidly and it has a tendency of invading and attacking the central nervous system faster than any other infection.
 The second form of the disease is known as Trypanosoma brucei gambiense (T.b.g) . This form of the disease is more common around west and central Africa. It represents 90 of all the reported cases and it causes a very chronic and acute infection of the sleeping sickness disease. The symptoms are hard to detect and a person can be infected for over several months and or even years without realizing any major signs and symptoms (Jeff, 1999). Symptoms emerge later when infection has already occurred and attacked the most critical parts such as the central nervous system at a very advanced stage. Besides the two strands of the disease, there is a third one which manifests itself in 15 central and South African countries known as the American Trypanosomiasis or the Chagas disease.  The disease causing organisms for this particular form of the disease is different from the two African forms. Thats why it is referred to as the Chagas or the American Trypanosomiasis depending on its geographical location.
The disease is transmitted by the tsetse fly which is the host parasite through biting. The bite is unlike any other bite from a fly since it is distinctively painful. However, only a few of the flies carry on the infectious parasites. Once bitten by the fly, the parasite is transmitted into the body system and it enters the blood streams where it is transported into the lymphs and to the central nervous system (James, 1999). Once in the body system the flagellates of the disease causing agents reproduce themselves while in the blood streams, and any fly which bites an infected human being gets itself infected and after a period of four to six months the fly becomes capable of infecting a mass of other persons.
The tse tes fly bite is distinctively painful and it can result to the development of red sores known as chancre. However, the different types of trypanomiasis manifest or exhibit different signs and symptoms depending on the kind of infection. In the case of the east African trypanosomiasis, various symptoms do occur within three to four day after infection. These signs and symptoms include severe headache, fever, irritability, extreme tiredness swollen lymphs, aching joints and muscles (Hoppe, 2001). Body rash and weight loss are equally common. At an advanced stage, infection of the central nervous system may result to confusion, slurred speech, difficulty in talking and walking, personality changes and the like. If not treated early, at advanced stages it can be fatal and result to death.
In case of the West African trypanosomiasis, infected persons may portray or develop simple forms chancre within two to three weeks after infection or after the tsetse fly bite. Other symptoms may begin to appear several months or weeks later such as  rash, fever, severe headache, headache, joint and muscle pain, loss of concentration slurred speech and even confusion (James, 1999).  If detected early the condition can result to death several years and months after infection.
Despite the fact that the disease is too rampant in Africa, it has some favorable conditions which highly nurture its growth and spread across Africa. First and foremost, the disease targets populations residing and living alongside dense vegetations near rivers, lake sides, thick forests and vast wooded savannah plantations. However, the disease is also too rampant among the rural populations residing is agricultural areas, fishing, animal husbandry and hunting (Brian, 2004). These populations are more prone to infection than any other population since the disease causing micro organism is also hosted by animals and it can be transmitted from livestock animals to human beings. Sleeping sickness does become too rampant in areas where health care standards are poor and infection rates increase due to lack of the means to contain the spread of the disease (Hoppe, 2001). These areas include, displaced populations by war, poverty and natural calamities leaving in poor settings such as refugee camps.
Sleeping sickness poses negative effects on human populations such as negative impacts on the economy of a country and deterioration of regional and national economies. Death as a result of sleeping sickness affects and brings changes in the general demographic populations and age structure of a country and consequently it leads to negative impacts on the general supply of skilled labor to a nation just mention but a few.


Post a Comment