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Human African trypanosomiasis 

Human African trypanosomiasis
Chapter:
Human African trypanosomiasis
Author(s):

Reto Brun

, and Johannes Blum

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198746690.003.0169
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date: 03 March 2021

Human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) is caused by subspecies of the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei. The disease is restricted to tropical Africa where it is transmitted by the bite of infected tsetse flies (Glossina spp.). Control programmes in the 1960s were very effective, but subsequent relaxation of control measures led to recurrence of epidemic proportions in the 1980s and 1990s. Control is now being regained. Untreated human African trypanosomiasis is almost invariably fatal. Specific treatment depends on the trypanosome subspecies and the stage of the disease. Drugs used for stage 1 include pentamidine and suramin, and for stage 2 include melarsoprol, eflornithine, and nifurtimox, but regimens are not standardized, and treatment is difficult and dangerous; all of the drugs used have many side effects, some potentially lethal.

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