Sleeping sickness is a severe condition which needs to be treated at the earliest stage possible, since this is the only way of dealing with it effectively. This disease originates in Africa and is also known by the name of African trypanosomiasis. It is caused by two microorganisms which enter a human brain and lead to inflammations of the meninges which envelop the brain and the spinal cord. These parasitic organisms are transferred through a bite of a special type of infected fly, tsetse. Not all flies of this type are infected, but once an infected one bites a human being, the harmful organisms start advancing to the brain, triggering symptoms of the sleeping sickness.
Signs of Sleeping Sickness
Initially, one of the two organisms triggers drowsiness during daytime, along with fever, headaches and joint pains. The bite spot that the tsetse fly creates is red and clearly visible. Once the infection gets worse, the lymph systems get affected and, thereby, the lymph nodes of the sufferer get severely swollen. The rest depends on the strength of the immune system and the sleeping disease may either overwhelm a person or appear gradually, after confusion, coordination difficulties, sleep disorders, extreme tiredness, sleeping during the day and insomnia during the night. Also, the battle between one’s organism and the sleeping disease may manifest in anemia, endocrine problems, and heart and kidney diseases. If the disease does not get treated properly at this stage, the final evolution it undergoes is death itself.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Sleeping Sickness
In order for this health problem to be diagnosed, series of tests need to be done, including blood smear, albumin levels, cerebrospinal fluid tests as well as complete blood count, globulin levels and node aspiration.
If the disease gets diagnosed at an early stage, it may be treated by specific drugs which are capable of fighting off the parasites. Mainly, four drugs are used for these purposes. Eflornithine, Melarsoprol, Pentamidine and Suramin are all known to be useful during sleeping sickness treatment. However, these drugs are known to trigger serous side-effects and the patients need to stay under constant monitoring.
Prevention of Sleeping Sickness
Since prevention is the best possible cure, you are advised to stay away from the carriers, the tsetse flies. Bushy areas are their breeding grounds, so stay away from those or spray them with insecticides. Also, use protective nets in your sleeping quarters, disallowing the flies from entering your dwelling, especially during the summer when the numbers of these insects present are the highest.