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Friday, May 18, 2012

Sleeping Sickness

                                     P.O. Box HG.548, Highlands, Harare     16, Walter Hill Avenue, Harare
                                Telephone/Fax: 707306, 704977   Cell 0772-329434     e-mail:



To: All schools, interest groups and volunteer hunters attending Rifa Conservation Education Camp, Chirundu and members of the ZHA

As we always warn our visitors to Rifa of the possibility of Malaria in the area, so we would like to make our visitors aware of the disease Trypanosomiasis and the symptoms. 

There have been a few recorded cases of Tryps coming out of the valley over the past few years but it is highly unlikely but not impossible for one to get this disease.  Therefore, please see below some information in this respect.

The fly that carries human tryps is a rarer species (G. pallidipes) and a thicket dweller.  The common one, (G. morsitans) we get around Rifa Camp is only dangerous to livestock, dogs, etc.

Trypanosomiasis or Sleeping sickness is caused by a Protozoa. It is carried by the dreaded Tsetse fly. 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 hunters, their staff and clients 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 hunters working in Tsetse areas be aware of the risk.  It would be good to warn clients of the potential for this infection as the chances are that if they go back to their home country they would automatically be treated for malaria if they developed symptoms without anyone considering the potential for Trypanosomiasis. Here in Zimbabwe, keep it as a possibility. 

Medical Laboratories have a Lab technician who has experience in diagnosing an infection from blood slides.  Dr. Pasi on 0772-221343 is experienced in handling these cases.  It is a very dangerous disease, fatal if untreated and the treatment is not easy either but early diagnosis will be life saving. Warn your clients and be aware for yourself and your staff. Don't just assume that any such symptoms are malaria. If glands get big, get a blood test. This could be life saving for you and your team.


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