What Is African Trypanosomiasis?
African Trypanosomiasis, also called as “sleeping sickness” is a disease caused by parasites which are transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. The disease is endemic to around 36 sub-Saharan African countries where the tsetse flies are found. The treatment of this disease is complicated but it is curable. If left untreated, the disease might prove to be fatal.
What Are The Symptoms Of African Trypanosomiasis?
The bite of a tsetse fly is very painful. Within one week of being bitten, there appears a painful sore on the bitten site. It is called a chancre. Symptoms differ from person to person. An infected person shows symptoms of the disease within 1 to 4 weeks of infection. In the initial stages include:
- Skin lesions.
- Swelling in the lymph nodes on the back of the neck.
Many weeks after infection, the condition worsens, and complication like meningoencephalitis develops. In this condition, the brain and fluid surrounding the brain and the spinal cord get infected. The following symptoms show up:
- Severe headaches.
- Loss of weight.
- Sleepiness during day time; as the disease progresses, sleepiness is uncontrollable.
- Insomnia (at night).
- Muscles and body pain.
- Change in personality.
- Slurred speech.
- A decrease in concentration.
- Patient experiences difficulty in everyday activities like talking and walking.
- Extreme fatigue.
If not treated on time, the disease might prove to be fatal.
What Are The Causes Of African Trypanosomiasis?
There are two species of parasites responsible for causing this disease: Trypanosoma brucei rhodesienseandTrypanosoma brucei gambiense. These two species of parasites infect humans when the carrier fly called tsetse bites people. The fly acquires these parasites from previous bites to human or animals.
This disease is more rampant in rural parts of Africa where the main occupation is agriculture, fishing, animal husbandry or hunting. Since the exposure to the tsetse fly is more in such work places, people working in these environments are more susceptible to the infection.
Though the most common way of infection is through the bite of an infected tsetse fly, there are other ways by way of which the infection might spreads:
- A pregnant woman may transmit the disease to the fetus through the placenta.
- The infection also spreads in laboratories infected needle pricks.
- Sleeping sickness is transmitted through sexual contact.
- In some cases, coming in mechanical contact with other infected insects may also spread the infection.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage African Trypanosomiasis?
- Since there is no vaccine for this disease, preventive measures are limited.
- In regions where the tsetse fly is abundant, wear dull colored clothes which cover the body from head to toe. The tsetse flies are attracted to bright colors.
- Wear long sleeved shirts and full pants for total protection.
- Before getting into vehicles like cars, jeeps or trucks look into them and try to fly out insects if any.
- Use protective nets to keep flies away.
- Keep the surroundings clean and sanitized.
- Use insect repellent, though the repellent is less effective on the tsetse fly.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage African Trypanosomiasis?
- Avoid traveling to areas prone to this disease.
- Avoid traveling in open cars, jeeps or any other type of open vehicles. The tsetse flies are believed to be attracted by dust, increasing your chances of an infection.
- The tsetse flies rest in the bushes during the day when it is very hot. So, avoid going near the bushes if you are in a region where sleeping sickness is endemic.
What Are The Best Foods For African Trypanosomiasis?
- There are no specific best foods or worst foods recommended during African trypanosomiasis. But by following the suggestions given below, the patient might find some relief from the symptoms of this disease.
- Since the patient tends to lose weight during this disease, eating healthy food is very important to recover from the illness.
- Drink plenty of fluids like water, hot soups, and juices to prevent dehydration.
- Eat a balanced diet consisting of carbohydrates, proteins, and essential fats will give the body the required nutrition to fight off the infection. So, the patient can eat normal food, all vegetables, and fruits, meat and eggs.
- Since the body is weak and immune compromised during this condition, eat food which is hot and drink boiled water to prevent the body from contracting any other infection.
What Are The Worst Foods For African Trypanosomiasis?
- Since body suffers from rashes and lesions avoid spicy food to prevent further aggravation.
- Avoiding oily food will help in easy digestion of food.
What Are The Medicines For African Trypanosomiasis?
What Are The Tips To Manage African Trypanosomiasis?
Since there is no vaccine to prevent African trypanosomiasis, the only way to prevent this disease is to avoid being around the tsetse flies.