- sleeping sickness
- sleeping sickness n1) a serious disease that is prevalent in much of tropical Africa, is marked by fever, headache, protracted lethargy, confusion, sleep disturbances, tremors, and loss of weight, is caused by either of two trypanosomes (Trypanosoma brucei gambiense and T. b. rhodesiense), and is transmitted by tsetse flies called also African sleeping sickness2) any of various viral encephalitides or encephalomyelitides of which lethargy or somnolence is a prominent feature esp EQUINE ENCEPHALOMYELITIS
* * *a disease of tropical Africa caused by the presence in the blood of the parasitic protozoans Trypanosoma or T. rhodesiense. The parasites are transmitted through the bite of tsetse flies. Initial symptoms include fever, headache, and chills, followed later by enlargement of the lymph nodes, anaemia, and pains in the limbs and joints. After a period of several months or even years, the parasites invade the minute blood vessels supplying the central nervous system. This causes drowsiness and lethargy, and ultimately - if untreated - the patient dies. Rhodesian sleeping sickness is the more virulent form of the disease. The drugs suramin and pentamidine are used to treat the early curable stages of sleeping sickness; drugs containing arsenic (see tryparsamide) are administered after the brain is affected. Eradication of tsetse flies helps prevent spread of the infection.
* * *1. African trypanosomiasis. 2. any disease characterized by increasing drowsiness and lethargy. Some are caused by protozoa, such as African trypanosomiasis; others are viral infections, such as St. Louis encephalitis and eastern, western, and Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis.
Medical dictionary. 2011.