The African Sleeping Sickness
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The African Sleeping Sickness

The African sleeping sickness is a parasitic disease, which can infect both humans and animals.

The African sleeping sickness is a parasitic disease, which can infect both humans and animals. This disease is an epidemic in some parts of sub-Sahara Africa. The World Health Organization believes that at least 70,000 people are infected with it.

The African sleeping sickness is a very serious disease that is fatal without proper treatment. It can be contracted in four different ways: from mother to child while giving birth, by touching infected blood, through blood transfusion or most commonly from being bit by an infected tsetse fly. Once a person is infected, the parasite travels through the blood stream. The African sleeping sickness progresses in two stages: the haemolymphaic phase and the neurological phase. During the early part of the haemolymphaic phase, the infected will suffer swelling, headache, joint pains and itching. It will be followed by intense pain, anemia, and both heart and kidney dysfunctions. After a week or two of being infected, the neurological phase begins; at this point, the parasite has started attacking the brain. Symptoms of this phase are confusion, reduced coordination, fatigue, and sleeping disorders such as sleeping all-day and staying awake all-night. After a couple of days the symptoms will worsen, and eventually the infected will fall into a coma, followed by death. The disease can be treated and cured during both the first and second stage, however to prevent permanent brain damage it is paramount that treatment be started during the first phase, for once the parasite makes it to the brain all damage done is irreversible.

The African sleeping sickness is a serious problem in some parts of Africa. The people who live there strive to protect themselves from the disease by eradicating the tsetse fly and by protecting their homes with mosquito proof netting and screens. Unfortunately, neither of these two approaches help a lot. Eradicating the tsetse fly is expensive and time consuming, and is near impossible, and protective screening does not always stop the fly from getting into homes and does nothing to protect the people when they are outdoors. Doctors are now able to treat and cure the disease with a drug called Elfornithine, which is very similar to what is used to treat malaria. The drug works quickly, only taking a couple of days to completely kill the parasite. However, due to the expense of treatment, many people cannot afford it and die from this curable disease.

The African sleeping sickness infects about 70,000 people yearly. Thanks to modern medicine only about 25% of those infected die from it. However, there is no need for anyone to die from it, as it is completely curable. Once people start putting human life before profit the fatality rate from this disease will drop to almost nonexistent. It is a real travesty that people are dying from a disease that can be cured.

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Comments (1)

Very good