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The Clinical Manifestations of Rhodesian Trypanosomiasis: An account of Cases Contracted in the Okavango Swamps of Botswana

J. H. S. GearDepartment of Tropical Diseases, South African Institute for Medical Research and Rietfontein Hospital, South Africa

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G. B. MillerDepartment of Tropical Diseases, South African Institute for Medical Research and Rietfontein Hospital, South Africa

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Over 100 years ago, David Livingstone reported the presence of tsetse flies in the Okavango swamps in northern Botswana. They have persisted in the region and recently have been responsible for many cases of Rhodesian sleeping sickness caused by Trypanosoma rhodesiense in visitors to the area. The clinical manifestations in illustrative cases of this disease are described. One patient who refused treatment died five months after being infected. One patient died of encephalopathy complicating treatment with Melarsoprol (Mel B) and one died in a hemorrhagic state associated with a heavy parasitemia early in his illness. Most patients treated early respond well to treatment with specific drugs, usually Suramin, and are cured. In those with involvement of the central nervous system the treatment required is more hazardous, but usually is effective in curing the patient.

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