Zimbabwe, Zambia

Kariba & Middle Zambezi

Facebook  Pinterest  Twitter

Beware of Sleeping sickness

Beware of Sleeping sickness

Beware of Sleeping sickness
Beware of Sleeping sickness

Sleeping sickness

As we always warn our visitors of the possibility of malaria in the area, so we would like to make our visitors aware of the disease Trypanosomiasis, or 'tryps', otherwise known as sleeping sickness and the symptoms.

There have been a few recorded cases of tryps coming out of the Zambezi valley over the past few years. It is still highly unlikely, but not impossible, for one to get this disease.

Trypanosomiasis or Sleeping sickness is caused by a Protozoa. It is carried by the dreaded Tsetse fly. The fly that carries human tryps is a rarer species (Glossinidae pallidipes) and a thicket dweller. The disease was rare in Zimbabwe with good Tsetse control. However, there has been an increase in the number of cases of tryps in recent years. It is found particularly in the valley and visitors need to be aware of the risks. There is no real way to prevent Tsetses biting although some home made repellents have some effect.

The symptoms of Trypanosomiasis come on over a matter of a week to several months and can mimic Malaria with fevers, headache, muscle pain, etc. The one distinguishing feature in the early stages is the localised enlargement of lymph glands to form a red angry looking lump or lumps, often in the neck glands but can be elsewhere. These are the symptoms of the early stage of the disease. If the protozoa crosses the brain barrier the patient will become tired, confused, irritable with severe headache, etc. Another symptom of the disease can be the appearance of a chancre at the site of the bite, a bit like a veld sore. 


While there are not many cases it is vital that visitors to Tsetse areas be aware of the risk. Chances are that if they go back to their home country they will automatically be treated for malaria if they developed symptoms without anyone considering the potential for Trypanosomiasis. If glands get big, get a blood test.