Human African trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness is a widespread tropical disease that can be fatal if not treated. It is spread by the bite of an infected tsetse fly (Glossina Genus).
The tsetse fly bite erupts into a red sore and within a few weeks the person can experience fever, swollen lymph glands, aching muscles and joints, headaches and irritability.
In advanced stages, the disease attacks the central nervous system, causing changes in personality, alteration of the biological clock (the circadian rhythm), confusion, slurred speech, seizures, and difficulty walking and talking. These problems can develop over many years in the Gambiense form and some months in the Rhodesiense form; if not treated, the person will die.
Control of sleeping sickness is based on reduction of the reservoirs of infection by early diagnosis and control of tsetse flies.
TDR related research
TDR supports research on this disease. Our work is being conducted in the following areas:
- Studies of pentamidine treatment for stage 1 of the disease (3 days instead of 7) and nifurtimox-eflornithine
- Tsetse fly control methods and strategies
WHO estimates investments needed for neglected tropical diseases
The impact of changing climate on vector-borne diseases
After ten years, the tsetse genome has been mapped
TDR publications and articles
Research Priorities for Chagas Disease, Human African Trypanosomiasis and Leishmaniasis
Changing Mindsets: Research Capacity strengthening in low and middle-income countries
A human rights-based approach to neglected tropical diseases
Strategic and business plan for the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI)