What does sleeping sickness mean?

Every one of us has already suffered: leaden fatigue and an extreme need for sleep. Especially in the dreary winter months is the desire, sometimes in the morning just to pull the blanket over your head and body and mind to rest, great. "I have sleeping sickness" or "I'm dead tired" are sentences that are part of our everyday usage and that we usually do not think about at all. It really does exist, the sleeping sickness. However, she has nothing to do with a burn-out syndrome, ie total mental and physical exhaustion.

The engraving of the tsetse fly

The "true" sleeping sickness, if left untreated, can actually lead to death. Fortunately, she is not represented in our latitudes. It occurs only in tropical Africa - in extreme cases with epidemic proportions. This infectious disease is transmitted by the blood-sucking tsetse fly, which is preferably located in rivers and water rich areas. Her sting is not only painful, but opens the so-called trypanosomes - these are unicellular parasites - the way into the bloodstream of humans. There are two types of pathogens: the East African "Trypanosoma brucei gambiense" and the West African "Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense". Mainly they differ in the duration of the disease process, and in that the West African form also affects animals (eg cattle and antelopes). Three stages are typical: inflammation of the injection site ("trypanosome tanker") first occurs, followed by flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache and lymph node swelling. Finally, the trypanosomes spread in the central nervous system causing sleep disturbances, seizures and other neurological disorders. The World Health Organization (WHO) is raising the alarm: It estimates the number of people infected with the virus in Central Africa at 300, 000 to 500, 000. If you travel to these areas, you should definitely have a good insect repellent and a mosquito net in your luggage. Helpful information on traveling to foreign countries is also available from the Ministry of Health. The affected countries plan to eradicate the tsetse fly with manipulated males, as the cases have increased massively in recent years.

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