Sunday, October 2, 2011

Name That disease #12

Can you name this disease?

Image is from the Center for Disease Control through Wikimedia Commons and is copyright free

This is Trypanosoma, also known as African Sleeping Sickness. This protist is transmitted through the tsetse fly, and it is mostly restricted to certain parts of sub-Saharan Africa.It can be a serious problem and is fatal if not treatment is given. Diagnosis is done using blood smears, such as the one above. The parasites are easily visible when stained. Treatment varies by how far the disease has progressed.

The two subspecies of Trypanosoma brucei (T. b. rhodesiense, the Eastern strain, and T. b. gambiense, the Western strain) act somewhat differently, with the Eastern form being more aggressive and faster acting than the Western. Symptoms include muscle aches, fever, headaches, and enlarged lymph nodes, with some patients also having a rash. As the disease advances, the nervous symptom becomes involved, and will result in the tiredness and confusion that is obviously what inspired the common name. The later stages can also involve balance problems and paralysis. In the Eastern form, death occurs after only a few months, while the Western form takes an average of three years to kill, though it can last as long as seven.

For those who are of the nerdy sort, as I am, this parasite is available in plush form. One of those is sitting on the shelf above my computer right now.

Source is the Center for Disease Control.

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