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Concept: Sleeping sickness


Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), also known as sleeping sickness, persists as a public health problem in several sub-Saharan countries. Evidence-based, spatially explicit estimates of population at risk are needed to inform planning and implementation of field interventions, monitor disease trends, raise awareness and support advocacy. Comprehensive, geo-referenced epidemiological records from HAT-affected countries were combined with human population layers to map five categories of risk, ranging from “very high” to “very low,” and to estimate the corresponding at-risk population.

Concepts: Health, Epidemiology, Statistics, Mathematics, Demography, African trypanosomiasis, Tsetse fly, Sleeping sickness


Sleeping sickness, also called human African trypanosomiasis, is transmitted by the tsetse, a blood-sucking fly confined to sub-Saharan Africa. The form of the disease in West and Central Africa is carried mainly by species of tsetse that inhabit riverine woodland and feed avidly on humans. In contrast, the vectors for the East and Southern African form of the disease are usually savannah species that feed mostly on wild and domestic animals and bite humans infrequently, mainly because the odours produced by humans can be repellent. Hence, it takes a long time to catch many savannah tsetse from people, which in turn means that studies of the nature of contact between savannah tsetse and humans, and the ways of minimizing it, have been largely neglected.

Concepts: Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, African trypanosomiasis, Southern Africa, Subregion, Tsetse fly, Sleeping sickness


BACKGROUND: Specific land cover types and activities have been correlated with Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense distributions, indicating the importance of landscape for epidemiological risk. However, methods proposed to identify specific areas with elevated epidemiological risk (i.e. where transmission is more likely to occur) tend to be costly and time consuming. This paper proposes an exploratory spatial analysis using geo-referenced human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) cases and matched controls from Serere hospital, Uganda (December 1998 to November 2002) to identify areas with an elevated epidemiological risk of HAT. METHODS: Buffers 3 km from each case and control were used to represent areas in which village inhabitants would carry out their daily activities. It was hypothesised that the selection of areas where several case village buffers overlapped would enable the identification of locations with increased risk of HAT transmission, as these areas were more likely to be frequented by HAT cases in several surrounding villages. The landscape within these overlap areas should more closely relate to the environment in which transmission occurs as opposed to using the full buffer areas. The analysis was carried out for each of four annual periods, for both cases and controls, using a series of threshold values (number of overlapping buffers), including a threshold of one, which represented the benchmark (e.g. use of the full buffer area as opposed to the overlap areas). RESULTS: A greater proportion of the overlap areas for cases consisted of seasonally flooding grassland and lake fringe swamp, than the control overlap areas, correlating well with the preferred habitat of the predominant tsetse species within the study area (Glossina fuscipes fuscipes). The use of overlap areas also resulted in a greater difference between case and control landscapes, when compared with the benchmark (using the full buffer area). CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that the overlap analysis has enabled the selection of areas more likely to represent epidemiological risk zones than similar analyses using full buffer areas. The identification of potential epidemiological risk zones using this method requires fewer data than other proposed methods and further development may provide vital information for the targeting of control measures.

Concepts: Trypanosoma brucei, African trypanosomiasis, Trypanosoma, Euglenozoa, Buffer, Tsetse fly, Sleeping sickness, Sterile insect technique


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, Africa, Species, African trypanosomiasis, Tsetse fly, Sleeping sickness, Trypanosomiasis, Animal trypanosomiasis


The WHO has established the disability-adjusted life year (DALY) as a metric for measuring the burden of human disease and injury globally. However, most DALY estimates have been calculated as national totals. We mapped spatial variation in the burden of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) in Uganda for the years 2000-2009. This represents the first geographically delimited estimation of HAT disease burden at the sub-country scale.

Concepts: Disease, African trypanosomiasis, Map, Quality-adjusted life year, Tsetse fly, Sleeping sickness, Disability-adjusted life year, Disease burden


The emphasis placed on the activities of mobile teams in the detection of gambiense human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) can at times obscure the major role played by fixed health facilities in HAT control and surveillance. The lack of consistent and detailed data on the coverage of passive case-finding and treatment further constrains our ability to appreciate the full contribution of the health system to the control of HAT.

Concepts: Parasitic diseases, Trypanosoma brucei, African trypanosomiasis, Major, Trypanosome, Tsetse fly, Sleeping sickness, ObsCure II


Active screening by mobile teams is considered the most effective method for detecting gambiense-type human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) but constrained funding in many post-conflict countries limits this approach. Non-specialist health care workers (HCWs) in peripheral health facilities could be trained to identify potential cases for testing based on symptoms. We tested a training intervention for HCWs in peripheral facilities in Nimule, South Sudan to increase knowledge of HAT symptomatology and the rate of syndromic referrals to a central screening and treatment centre.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, Healthcare, Africa, African trypanosomiasis, Sudan, Tsetse fly, Sleeping sickness


BackgroundAfrican animal trypanosomiasis (AAT) is considered to be one of the greatest constraints to livestock production and livestock-crop integration in most African countries. South-eastern Uganda has suffered for more than two decades from outbreaks of zoonotic Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), adding to the burden faced by communities from AAT. There is insufficient AAT and HAT data available (in the animal reservoir) to guide and prioritize AAT control programs that has been generated using contemporary, sensitive and specific molecular techniques. This study was undertaken to evaluate the burden that AAT presents to the small-scale cattle production systems in south-eastern Uganda.MethodsRandomised cluster sampling was used to select 14% (57/401) of all cattle containing villages across Tororo District. Blood samples were taken from all cattle in the selected villages between September-December 2011; preserved on FTA cards and analysed for different trypanosomes using a suite of molecular techniques. Generalized estimating equation and Rogen-Gladen estimator models were used to calculate apparent and true prevalences of different trypanosomes while intra cluster correlations were estimated using a 1-way mixed effect analysis of variance (ANOVA) in R statistical software version 3.0.2.ResultsThe prevalence of all trypanosome species in cattle was 15.3% (95% CI; 12.2-19.1) while herd level trypanosome species prevalence varied greatly between 0-43%. Trypanosoma vivax (17.4%, 95% CI; 10.6-16.8) and Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense (0.03%) were respectively, the most, and least prevalent trypanosome species identified.ConclusionsThe prevalence of bovine trypanosomes in this study indicates that AAT remains a significant constraint to livestock health and livestock production. There is need to implement tsetse and trypanosomiasis control efforts across Tororo District by employing effective, cheap and sustainable tsetse and trypanosomiasis control methods that could be integrated in the control of other endemic vector borne diseases like tick-borne diseases.

Concepts: Trypanosoma brucei, African trypanosomiasis, Trypanosoma, Euglenozoa, Trypanosome, Tsetse fly, Sleeping sickness, Trypanosomiasis


Two goals have been set for Gambian human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), the first is to achieve elimination as a public health problem in 90% of foci by 2020, and the second is to achieve zero transmission globally by 2030. It remains unclear if certain HAT hotspots could achieve elimination as a public health problem by 2020 and, of greater concern, it appears that current interventions to control HAT in these areas may not be sufficient to achieve zero transmission by 2030. A mathematical model of disease dynamics was used to assess the potential impact of changing the intervention strategy in two high-endemicity health zones of Kwilu province, Democratic Republic of Congo. Six key strategies and twelve variations were considered which covered a range of recruitment strategies for screening and vector control. It was found that effectiveness of HAT screening could be improved by increasing effort to recruit high-risk groups for screening. Furthermore, seven proposed strategies which included vector control were predicted to be sufficient to achieve an incidence of less than 1 reported case per 10,000 people by 2020 in the study region. All vector control strategies simulated reduced transmission enough to meet the 2030 goal, even if vector control was only moderately effective (60% tsetse population reduction). At this level of control the full elimination threshold was expected to be met within six years following the start of the change in strategy and over 6000 additional cases would be averted between 2017 and 2030 compared to current screening alone. It is recommended that a two-pronged strategy including both enhanced active screening and tsetse control is implemented in this region and in other persistent HAT foci to ensure the success of the control programme and meet the 2030 elimination goal for HAT.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic, African trypanosomiasis, Vector, Tsetse fly, Sleeping sickness, Sterile insect technique


Gambian sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis, HAT) outbreaks are brought under control by case detection and treatment although it is recognised that this typically only reaches about 75% of the population. Vector control is capable of completely interrupting HAT transmission but is not used because it is considered too expensive and difficult to organise in resource-poor settings. We conducted a full scale field trial of a refined vector control technology to determine its utility in control of Gambian HAT.

Concepts: Sleep disorder, African trypanosomiasis, Vector, Trypanosome, Tsetse fly, Sleeping sickness, Sterile insect technique, Geoffrey Douglas Hale Carpenter