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Sleeping Sickness

Bryan Applications, S

The disease described as sleeping sickness, negro lethargy or African lethargy represents the second stage of trypanosomiasis or infection with one of the species of trypanosome, spindle-shaped protozoal microorganism with a wavy appearance.

Three types of human trypanosomiasis are recognized. Two of them are found Africa, the West African and the Rhodesian types, and these resemble one another. The third type, the South American, also known as Chagas’ disease, presents different features.

The cause of the West African type is trypanosoma gambiense, which is injected by a species of tsetse fly, the glossinapalpalis, and of the Rhodesian type, trypanosoma rhodesiense, which is injected by another species of tsetse, Glossinamorsitans.

Signs of the infection:

After an infective bite by the glossinapalpalis, which may leave an inflamed swelling, there follows a latent period ranging from about two weeks to many months, after which the patient begins to suffer from irregular bouts of fever lasting from one to three weeks and separated by febrile intervals of about one week. Lymphatic glands over the body become enlarged, and noticeably at an early stage those about the back of the neck. Europeans commonly suffer from erythematous rashes or from patches of edema.

This state of things may go on for months or years, the patient gradually becoming weaker, thinner and anemic, and then possibly he may recover. This event is very seldom indeed, however, and what is likely to happen is that he will become apparently lazy, lethargic and dull and careless about his work and personal appearance. He has attacks of somnolence, and this tendency steadily increases until he has to be awakened to take food and may even fall asleep again with food in his mouth. Meanwhile he has been wasting more rapidly and become weaker. At the beginning of this stage he may complain of headache, and as the disease progresses tremors of the tongue and of the limbs and abdominal muscles commonly make their appearance.

Death may occur in a state of coma, but at any time during the course of the malady and in either stage the patient may be carried off by pneumonia, dysentery or some other intercurrent disease.

The German bacteriologist, Robert Koch, after he studied the disease in its strong-hold in Africa and found that the tsetse fly feeds on the blood of the crocodile.

The Rhodesian type of the disease runs a more rapid course, death usually occurring within a year after infection. Arsenical remedies are not very satisfactory, but Bayer 205 is useful. Chagas disease (after the Brazilian physician, Carlos Chagas) is caused by trypanosoma cruzi, which is inoculated by the bite of a large bug, triatoma magista. The disease may occur in an acute form, but this is generally in infants under a year old, and death may occur within a month. There is slight fever, with general swelling over the body, enlargements of the lymphatics and a pronounced enlargement of the thyroid gland.

The chronic form of the disease, which may follow on after the acute or occur independently, may last for several years, and different people are differently affected. Some develop myxedema, others suffer from irregularity and slowness of the heart’s action, and still others from tremors, paralysis and other nervous symptoms. The treatment used for the African types does not serve in Chagas’ disease, but the tendency to myxedema can be countered by giving thyroid extract.

Application and treatment:

As in all infectious disease, it is essential to get a proper diagnosis, and the disease must be caught and arrested in the early stages, due to the toxic side effects of destroying the microbes, which can greatly increase the danger to the patient.

Infectious diseases are treated in the same manner, via water pans. Sessions consist of 3 to 5 minute applications per frequency, alternating polarity every 30 to 90 seconds, and ending with detox. This is repeated every 72 hours.

Applications of pads to the swellings may be useful, however, discontinue if swellings increase, or if there is no change after 3 treatments.