Sleeping Sickness Essay

Sleeping Sickness Essay

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Imagine you have just returned from a safari to Africa. You soon develop a fever, swollen lymph nodes, and as time goes on you begin to have trouble sleeping. Eventually you cannot stay awake during the day or sleep at night, you begin to lose coordination, and if left untreated you could go into a coma and die within six months. While in Africa, you contracted African Trypanosomiasis, better known as sleeping sickness. You contracted this disease from one of the smallest animals you encountered on your safari, the tsetse fly. The tsetse fly carries a parasitic protest known as trypanosoma brucei that causes sleeping sickness. The tsetse fly has helped spread this disease throughout sub-Saharan Africa causing outbreaks that have ravaged populations since the fourteenth century.
Symptoms of the disease begin to occur shortly after being bitten. A chancre forms around where the person has been bitten and soon the parasite enters the lymphatic system. The immune response it triggers in the immune system causes the lymph nodes to swell especially on the necks. The severe swelling of the lymph nodes on the dorsal side of the neck is known as Winterbottom’s sign, and is a tell-tale sign of sleeping sickness. The parasite soon finds its way into the blood stream after invading the lymphatic system. From the bloodstream, the parasite is free to travel and harm any organ and cause damage all throughout the body. The parasite targets smooth and skeletal muscle and is often fatal because of the damage it causes to cardiac muscle. The disease begins to wreak havoc on the nervous system when the parasite enters the brain which constitutes stage II trypanosomiasis. The person’s sleep cycles are disrupted, and fatigue, insomnia, and confusion...


... middle of paper ...


...to evade detection by the immune system. Although it rarely reaches the United States, sleeping sickness has a devastating effect on parts of Africa and is just one of the many diseases threatening Africans. Hopefully in the near future scientists will be able to learn even more about this disease and most importantly how to eradicate it completely.




Works Cited

1. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/228613-overview
2. http://pathmicro.med.sc.edu/lecture/trypanosomiasis.htm
3. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs259/en/
4. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=4&hid=122&sid=3412f781-1a76-4535-a9e0-63b2423c1626%40sessionmgr15&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=cmedm&AN=21911566
5. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=4&hid=17&sid=3412f781-1a76-4535-a9e0-63b2423c1626%40sessionmgr15&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=cmedm&AN=21376044

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