Sleeping Sickness


This is an infection caused by a parasite. It leads to swelling in your brain. Sleeping sickness can be very serious.


How do you get sleeping sickness? It doesn't spread directly from person to person. It's caused by the bite of an infected tsetse fly. That's a pest found in Africa. When the fly bites you, the parasite gets into your skin, and then it passes into your blood. There are actually two different parasites that cause sleeping sickness. One is historically found in East Africa. The other is historically found in West Africa.


What are the symptoms of sleeping sickness? You may have a swollen, painful bump where the fly bit you. You may experience mood changes and anxiety. You may have fever, sweats and swollen lymph nodes all over your body. You may have headaches and weakness. You may have trouble sleeping at night, and uncontrollable sleepiness during the day. Without treatment, you can slip into a coma. You can die.


Sleeping sickness is treated with medications. Your doctor will create a care plan that's right for you.


And if you live in or plan to visit a place where you may come into contact with tsetse flies, make sure you learn how to keep them away from you.