Call Us : +41 22 738 18 48

African Trypanosomiasis (Sleeping Sickness) and the Skin (For professionals)

  • It is due to a protist (parasites) and transmitted by the Tsetse fly (also Mother-to child transmission and blood transfusions) . Around 60000 individuals (mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa) are infected. Treatment is available.
  • There are two stages called the haemolymphatic and the neurological phase.
  • The haemolymphatic phase is characterized by fever, headache, joint pain and skin lesions. When the infection enters the circulatory system, swelling of lymph nodes occurs (Winterbottom’s sign). Anemia and renal dysfunction can present later.
  • The neurological phase occurs when the infection crosses the blood-brain barrier and the name of the condition refers to the sleep disturbance which is a characteristic of this phase. Untreated, the condition leads to coma and death.



  • On the skin it presents at the inital stages as a trypanosomal chancre at the site of the bite, then nodules and eczematous lesions (dermatitis).




Dermatology Secrets, 3rd Edition


Source of information: here