The Facts About Sleeping Sickness

African Trypanosomiasis (also known as Sleeping Sickness) is a parasitic disease that is spread by the tsetse fly. It is most common in the Sub-Saharan regions of Africa where over 60 million people are at risk for contracting this disease. The transmission of this disease occurs when an infected tsetse fly bites someone and the parasite that it is carrying is then passed on. Without proper treatment, sleeping sickness can be fatal.

What Are The Symptoms of Sleeping Sickness?

When bitten by the tsetse fly, a  bright red sore will appear at the site of the bite. It may take a few weeks for symptoms to develop after which the infected person will start to experience a fever, headaches, itching, swollen glands, sore muscles and an overall feeling of being unwell along with irritability. These symptoms may come and go with long periods of time in between. If the sleeping sickness is not treated then the disease could progress to the second stage which may take years to develop. In this advanced stage of the disease symptoms are very severe. Someone who is infected may have issues with sleep patterns, seizures, difficulty talking, difficulty walking and confusion. This phase of sleeping sickness affects the central nervous system and is responsible for close to 9,000 deaths per year.

How Is This Disease Diagnosed?

African Trypanosomiasis can be a difficult disease to diagnose. Lab samples must be taken of either the blood, bone marrow or lymphatic fluid to diagnose the early stages and cerebrospinal fluid is needed in the advanced stages. These samples are then examined under a microscope to find evidence of the parasite. This diagnosis is necessary for doctors to properly treat this disease and stop its progression.

How Can I Keep From Getting Infected?

There are currently no vaccinations available to keep from getting infected with this disease. The best course of action to take to prevent sleeping sickness is to avoid areas with high infestations of the tsetse fly. Also, wear insect repellent whenever you are outside, avoid forested areas or areas with long grasses and make sure that as much skin is covered as possible. Taking these precautions will help to prevent a tsetse fly bite.

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a tsetse fly it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible. The doctors at LiveMD are available to assist with diagnosis and treatment options and are available all hours of the day, every day of the week. A quick diagnosis is important to prevent the progression of this disease. Don’t hesitate. Visit today.

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July 31st, 2016 by