Follow DNDi on LinkedInFollow DNDi on TwitterFollow DNDi on Facebook

Human African Trypanosomiasis

What is Sleeping Sickness?

The number of actual cases is currently estimated at 20,000.
1,673,000 DALYs *
Fatal if left untreated. Displacement of populations, war, and poverty lead to increased transmission, with severe social and economic consequences.
Some areas are still not covered by surveillance and control efforts.

Large proportions of communities can be affected by Human African Trypanosomiasis - also known as sleeping sickness - with serious social and economic consequences. Epidemics at the end of the 20th century infected up to 50% of the population in several villages across rural Africa.
* The Global Burden of Disease Report, WHO, 2004.
Of the 36 countries considered endemic for HAT, the 7 most affected countries represent 97% of all reported cases (see map). The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) alone accounts for 2/3 of reported cases.
HAT primarily occurs in the poorest, most rural areas in Africa, where difficulty of diagnosis, political instability, and lack of health surveillance make estimates of disease prevalence difficult to ascertain.
Transmitted by the parasite Trypanosoma brucei (T. b.) to humans by tsetse flies, HAT is caused by two sub-species of the kinetoplastid protozoan parasite: T. b. gambiense (West and Central Africa), T. b. rhodesiense (East Africa).
HAT occurs in two stages:
  •  stage 1 - the haemolymphatic phase – includes non-specific symptoms like headaches and bouts of fever (generally goes undiagnosed without active HAT surveillance).
  •  stage 2 - the later, neurologic phase – occurs when the parasite crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and can lead to serious sleep cycle disruptions, paralysis, progressive mental deterioration, and, ultimately, results in death without effective treatment.
Patient Treatment Needs
A safe, effective, and orally administered stage 2 treatment is needed that improves and simplifies current case management. This drug should ideally work in both stages of the disease.


HAT factsheet Download DNDi Human African Trypanosomiasis Fact-sheet
[PDF | 0.9MB]

Tags: HAT – Sleeping Sickness

Human African Trypanosomiasis

36 countries at risk

20,000 cases

Voices for
Sleeping Sickness

Angèle was diagnosed with late stage sleeping sickness.
Read her story

Except for images, films and trademarks which are subject to DNDi’s Terms of Use, content on this site
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Switzerland License