African trypanosomiasis

Last reviewed 01/2018

African trypanosomiasis results from infection with a species of Trypanosoma brucei. In general, infected areas lie south of the Sahara and north of the Zambezi River.

  • Trypanosoma brucei gambiense, found in west and central Africa, causes a slow wasting illness (gambiense sleeping sickness)
  • Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense causes a more rapidly progressive illness. It is found in east and southern Africa.

The organism gains access to the body via a bite from an infected tsetse fly, and spreads to lymph nodes, blood, spleen, heart and the brain.