Human African trypanosomiasis
Epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of one of the world’s most neglected diseases
- By: Benjamin Jelle Visser, M D de Kruif, E C M van Gorp
More than one billion people are affected by one or more of the 15 neglected tropical diseases identified by the World Health Organization. These tropical diseases are neglected because they have been largely eliminated elsewhere and are often forgotten in wealthier places. Neglected diseases are now a symptom of poverty and disadvantage. The poorest populations are most affected, often living in remote rural areas, urban slums, or conflict zones. These people have little political voice, and neglected tropical diseases have a low profile and status in public health priorities.
Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), also known as human sleeping sickness once the causative trypanosome parasites have invaded the brain, is considered one of the most neglected. This vector borne parasitic disease exists exclusively in Africa. In the end stage of this disease, damage to the central nervous system causes dysregulation of the circadian rhythm of the sleep-wake cycle.
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