Sleeping sickness is infection with germs carried by certain flies. It results in swelling of the brain.
Sleeping sickness is caused by two germs, Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense and Trypanosomoa brucei gambiense. The more severe form of the illness is caused by T. rhodesiense.
Tsetse flies carry the infection. When an infected fly bites you, the infection spreads through your blood.
Risk factors include living in parts of Africa where the disease is found and being bitten by tsetse flies. The disease is very rare in the United States, and is only found in travelers who have visited or lived in Africa.
Kirchoff LV. Agents of African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness). In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolan R, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Orlando, FL: Saunders Elsevier;2009:chap 278.
Quinn TC. African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness). In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 367.
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