Sleeping sickness is also known as trypanosomiasis or African sleeping sickness.
It’s caused by a small parasite that leads to a serious infection in the brain and the meninges (the covering of the brain and spinal cord).
There are 2 types of parasite. The dominant form (98 per cent of cases) takes longer to cause illness.
The disease develops slowly and if treatment is delayed, it usually proves fatal.
These dangerous parasites are carried by the tsetse fly. Fortunately, most tsetse flies are not infected with the parasite, but the fly’s bite is often very painful .
The fly and the parasite are found in 36 countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
Most reported cases are from the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2013 the number of reported annual infections has reduced to less than 7,000. Between the World Health Organisation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation this is a disease that may be eliminated in humans our life time.
Author: Sonali Gupta