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Concept: Animal trypanosomiasis


African trypanosomes are unicellular flagellated parasites causing trypanosomiases in Africa, a group of severe diseases also known as sleeping sickness in human and nagana in cattle. These parasites are almost exclusively transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly. In this review, we describe and compare the three developmental programs of the main trypanosome species impacting human and animal health, with focus on the most recent observations. From here, some reflections are made on research issues concerning trypanosome developmental biology in the tsetse fly that are to be addressed in the future.

Concepts: Human, Species, Animal trypanosomiasis, Sleeping sickness, Tsetse fly, African trypanosomiasis, Trypanosomiasis, Africa


For the first time, differential attraction of pathogen vectors to vertebrate animals is investigated for novel repellents which when applied to preferred host animals turn them into non-hosts thereby providing a new paradigm for innovative vector control. For effectively controlling tsetse flies (Glossina spp.), vectors of African trypanosomosis, causing nagana, repellents more powerful than plant derived, from a non-host animal the waterbuck, Kobus ellipsiprymnus defassa, have recently been identified. Here we investigate these repellents in the field to protect cattle from nagana by making cattle as unattractive as the buck.

Concepts: Host, Animal trypanosomiasis, African trypanosomiasis, Hippoboscoidea, East Africa, Sterile insect technique, Trypanosomiasis, Tsetse fly


Specialized pastoralism developed ∼3 kya among Pastoral Neolithic Elmenteitan herders in eastern Africa. During this time, a mosaic of hunters and herders using diverse economic strategies flourished in southern Kenya. It has been argued that the risk for trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), carried by tsetse flies in bushy environments, had a significant influence on pastoral diversification and migration out of eastern Africa toward southern Africa ∼2 kya. Elmenteitan levels at Gogo Falls (ca. 1.9-1.6 kya) preserve a unique faunal record, including wild mammalian herbivores, domestic cattle and caprines, fish, and birds. It has been suggested that a bushy/woodland habitat that harbored tsetse fly constrained production of domestic herds and resulted in subsistence diversification. Stable isotope analysis of herbivore tooth enamel (n = 86) from this site reveals, instead, extensive C4 grazing by both domesticates and the majority of wild herbivores. Integrated with other ecological proxies (pollen and leaf wax biomarkers), these data imply an abundance of C4 grasses in the Lake Victoria basin at this time, and thus little risk for tsetse-related barriers to specialized pastoralism. These data provide empirical evidence for the existence of a grassy corridor through which small groups of herders could have passed to reach southern Africa.

Concepts: Hippoboscoidea, Animal trypanosomiasis, Kenya, Africa, Trypanosomiasis, Tsetse fly, African trypanosomiasis, East Africa


Uganda is the only country where the chronic and acute forms of human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) or sleeping sickness both occur and are separated by < 100 km in areas north of Lake Kyoga. In Uganda, Glossina fuscipes fuscipes is the main vector of the Trypanosoma parasites responsible for these diseases as well for the animal African Trypanosomiasis (AAT), or Nagana. We used highly polymorphic microsatellite loci and a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) marker to provide fine scale spatial resolution of genetic structure of G. f. fuscipes from 42 sampling sites from the northern region of Uganda where a merger of the two disease belts is feared. Based on microsatellite analyses, we found that G. f. fuscipes in northern Uganda are structured into three distinct genetic clusters with varying degrees of interconnectivity among them. Based on genetic assignment and spatial location, we grouped the sampling sites into four genetic units corresponding to northwestern Uganda in the Albert Nile drainage, northeastern Uganda in the Lake Kyoga drainage, western Uganda in the Victoria Nile drainage, and a transition zone between the two northern genetic clusters characterized by high level of genetic admixture. An analysis using HYBRIDLAB supported a hybrid swarm model as most consistent with tsetse genotypes in these admixed samples. Results of mtDNA analyses revealed the presence of 30 haplotypes representing three main haplogroups, whose location broadly overlaps with the microsatellite defined clusters. Migration analyses based on microsatellites point to moderate migration among the northern units located in the Albert Nile, Achwa River, Okole River, and Lake Kyoga drainages, but not between the northern units and the Victoria Nile drainage in the west. Effective population size estimates were variable with low to moderate sizes in most populations and with evidence of recent population bottlenecks, especially in the northeast unit of the Lake Kyoga drainage. Our microsatellite and mtDNA based analyses indicate that G. f. fuscipes movement along the Achwa and Okole rivers may facilitate northwest expansion of the Rhodesiense disease belt in Uganda. We identified tsetse migration corridors and recommend a rolling carpet approach from south of Lake Kyoga northward to minimize disease dispersal and prevent vector re-colonization. Additionally, our findings highlight the need for continuing tsetse monitoring efforts during and after control.

Concepts: Uganda, Vector, Sterile insect technique, Sleeping sickness, Animal trypanosomiasis, Population genetics, Tsetse fly, African trypanosomiasis


Human and animal trypanosomiasis, spread by tsetse flies (Glossina spp), is a major public health concern in much of sub-Saharan Africa. The basic reproduction number of vector-borne diseases, such as trypanosomiasis, is a function of vector mortality rate. Robust methods for estimating tsetse mortality are thus of interest for understanding population and disease dynamics and for optimal control. Existing methods for estimating mortality in adult tsetse, from ovarian dissection data, often use invalid assumptions of the existence of a stable age distribution, and age-invariant mortality and capture probability. We develop a dynamic model to estimate tsetse mortality from ovarian dissection data in populations where the age distribution is not necessarily stable. The models correspond to several hypotheses about how temperature affects mortality: no temperature dependence (model 1), identical temperature dependence for mature adults and immature stages, i.e., pupae and newly emerged adults (model 2), and differential temperature dependence for mature adults and immature stages (model 3). We fit our models to ovarian dissection data for G. pallidipes collected at Rekomitjie Research Station in the Zambezi Valley in Zimbabwe. We compare model fits to determine the most probable model, given the data, by calculating the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) for each model. The model that allows for a differential dependence of temperature on mortality for immature stages and mature adults (model 3) performs significantly better than models 1 and 2. All models produce mortality estimates, for mature adults, of approximately 3% per day for mean daily temperatures below 25°C, consistent with those of mark-recapture studies performed in other settings. For temperatures greater than 25°C, mortality among immature classes of tsetse increases substantially, whereas mortality remains roughly constant for mature adults. As a sensitivity analysis, model 3 was simultaneously fit to both the ovarian dissection and trap data; while this fit also produces comparable mortality at temperatures below 25°C, it is not possible to obtain good fits to both data sources simultaneously, highlighting the uncertain correspondence between trap catches and population levels and/or the need for further improvements to our model. The modelling approach employed here could be applied to any substantial time series of age distribution data.

Concepts: Hippoboscoidea, Population, Mathematics, Animal trypanosomiasis, Sterile insect technique, Trypanosomiasis, African trypanosomiasis, Tsetse fly


Tsetse flies (Diptera, Glossinidae) transmit human and animal trypanosomoses in Africa, respectively a neglected human disease (sleeping sickness) and the most important constraint to cattle production in infested countries (nagana). We recently developed a methodology to map landscape friction (i.e. resistance to movement) for tsetse in West Africa. The goal was to identify natural barriers to tsetse dispersal, and potentially isolated tsetse populations for targeting elimination programmes. Most species distribution models neglect landscape functional connectivity whereas environmental factors affecting suitability or abundance are not necessarily the same as those influencing gene flows. Geographic distributions of a given species can be seen as the intersection between biotic (B), abiotic (A) and movement (M) factors (BAM diagram). Here we show that the suitable habitat for Glossina palpalis gambiensis as modelled by Maxent can be corrected by landscape functional connectivity (M) extracted from our friction analysis. This procedure did not degrade the specificity of the distribution model (P=0.751) whereas the predicted distribution area was reduced. The added value of this approach is that it reveals unconnected habitat patches. The approach we developed on tsetse to inform landscape connectivity (M) is reproducible and does not rely on expert knowledge. It can be applied to any species: we call for a generalization of the use of M to improve distribution models.

Concepts: Africa, Sterile insect technique, Flies, Hippoboscoidea, Trypanosomiasis, Animal trypanosomiasis, African trypanosomiasis, Tsetse fly


Uganda has suffered from a series of epidemics of Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), a tsetse transmitted disease, also known as sleeping sickness. The area affected by acute Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense HAT (rHAT) has been expanding, driven by importation of infected cattle into regions previously free of the disease. These regions are also affected by African Animal Trypanosomiasis (AAT) demanding a strategy for integrated disease control.

Concepts: Euglenozoa, Livestock, Animal trypanosomiasis, Trypanosoma, Trypanosoma brucei, Sleeping sickness, Tsetse fly, African trypanosomiasis


Tsetse flies (Diptera: Glossinidae) are the vectors of trypanosomes causing sleeping sickness in humans, and nagana (animal trypanosomosis) in domestic animals, in Subsaharan Africa. They have been described as being strictly hematophagous, and transmission of trypanosomes occurs when they feed on a human or an animal. There have been indications however in old papers that tsetse may have the ability to digest sugar. Here we show that hungry tsetse (Glossina palpalis gambiensis) in the lab do feed on water and on water with sugar when no blood is available, and we also show that wild tsetse have detectable sugar residues. We showed in laboratory conditions that at a low concentration (0.1%) or provided occasionally (0.1%, 0.5%, 1%), glucose had no significant impact on female longevity and fecundity. However, regular provision of water with 1% glucose increased the mortality and reduced the fecundity of female Glossina palpalis gambiensis. The proportion of wild tsetse caught by traps, which have detectable sugar residue in their midgut varied between 5 and 10% according to species (p<10(-3)) and sex, with more females being found with sugar residues than males (p<10(-3)). We also observed a higher frequency of sugar residues in the dry season than in the rainy season (p <10(3)). The infection status did not affect the frequency of sugar residues found (p=0.65), neither did age (p=0.23). These observations represent a fundamental change in our knowledge of this insect vector. They open the way for further research on the field to know more on tsetse feeding behaviour regarding other sources of meal than blood, in particular with plants, and may constitute future new means of controlling this vector of neglected tropical diseases.

Concepts: Tropics, Sex, Male, Hippoboscoidea, Animal trypanosomiasis, Trypanosomiasis, Tsetse fly, African trypanosomiasis


The emergence of new vector-borne diseases requires new methods of vector control. These diseases are often zoonoses associated with wilderness areas, and established methods of vector control used in domestic settings (e.g., indoor-residual spraying, insecticide-treated bednets) are therefore inappropriate. Similar difficulties are also emerging with the control of ‘old’ vector-borne diseases such as malaria. Understanding the host-finding behaviour of vectors assists the development and application of control methods and aids the understanding of epidemiology. Some general lessons are illustrated by reference to a century of research on the host-finding behaviour of tsetse flies which transmit trypanosomes causing human and animal trypanosomiases, including Rhodesian sleeping sickness, a zoonosis associated with wilderness areas of sub-Saharan Africa.

Concepts: Animal trypanosomiasis, Sub-Saharan Africa, Hippoboscoidea, Africa, Tsetse fly, Trypanosomiasis, Malaria, African trypanosomiasis


Here we set out to standardize long-lasting, visually-attractive devices for , a vector of both human and animal trypanosomiasis in open savannah in Tanzania and Kenya, and in neighbouring conservation areas used by pastoralists. The goal was to determine the most practical device/material that would induce the strongest landing response in for use in area-wide population suppression of this fly with insecticide-impregnated devices.

Concepts: Sterile insect technique, Animal trypanosomiasis, Flies, Trypanosomiasis, Hippoboscoidea, African trypanosomiasis, East Africa, Tsetse fly