Encyclopedia of Parasitology

Living Edition
| Editors: Heinz Mehlhorn

Sleeping Sickness: Humans – Symptoms

  • Heinz Mehlhorn
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27769-6_4332-1
Infection with both Trypanosoma brucei gambiense and T. b. rhodesiense lead to diseases called sleeping sickness and/or trypanosomiasis. Although the agents of this disease are subspecies of the same Trypanosoma brucei species, they differ in many general aspects (Table 1) and in their introduced clinical symptoms which can be grouped into two successive phases:
Table 1

Basic differences between Trypanosoma brucei gambiense and T. b. rhodesiense and their pathogenic effects


T. b. gambiense

T. b. rhodesiense


West and Central Africa

Southeast Africa


Main hosts: humans

Main hosts: ruminants

Reservoir hosts: pigs

Accidental hosts: humans


Tsetse flies of the Glossina palpalis group

Tsetse flies of the Glossina morsitans group

Climatic distribution

Humid biotopes

Dry grasslands


Moderate to very variable



Low, intermittent

Often high, persistent

Clinical progress



Clinical symptoms

Months up to 6 years

Weeks, rarely...


Clinical Symptom General Aspect Successive Phasis Trypanosoma Brucei Trypanosoma Brucei Gambiense 
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Further Reading

  1. Barrel MP et al (2007) Human African trypanosomiasis. Br J Pharmacol 152:1155–1171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brun R et al (2010) Human African trypanosomiasis. Lancet 375:148–159CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Priotto G et al (2009) Nifurtimox-eflornithine combination therapy for second stage African T. b. gambiense trypanosomiasis. Lancet 374:56–64CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Zoomorphologie, Zellbiologie und Parasitologie Universitätsstraße 1DüsseldorfGermany