African trypanosomiasi



African trypanosomiasis, also called African sleeping sickness, is a disease caused by a parasite transmitted through the bite of an infected tsetse fly. The diverse symptoms of African trypanosomiasis include body weakness, headaches and muscular pain. If not detected in time and properly treated, the disease can rapidly lead to death.


All the persons traveling to Sub-Saharan Africa are at risk for African sleeping sickness. They are particularly threatened by the disease if they spend a lot of time outdoors.


There is currently no vaccine or specific medicine to prevent African trypanosomiasis. If you go to Sub-Saharan Africa, the only way to avoid being infected with the parasite is to protect yourself efficiently against tsetse flies.

  • Entirely cover your skin with protective clothes like trousers, long-sleeved shirts and hats. Preferably wear clothing made of thick fabric, as tsetse flies can bite through thin fabric. They are usually attracted by bright and very dark colors. Thus, it is advised that you preferably wear neutral-colored clothes.
  • During the day, avoid going near bushes, as tsetse flies may be resting there and will bite if disturbed.
  • Before entering a car, check it for tsetse flies. These insects are attracted by moving vehicles.
  • Although it is not proven that insect repellents are effective against tsetse flies, you should always apply some on your exposed skin when going outside. Choose a repellent offering long lasting protection and containing a high percentage of active ingredients (like DEET for example). Use repellents with caution and strictly follow product directions. Avoid applying repellent in your eyes, in your mouth and on your hands. It is possible to combine sunscreen and repellent (apply the sunscreen first).
  • For optimal protection, you can wear Permethrin-treated clothes. You can purchase pre-treated items in specialized shops, or you can apply Permethrin on your own clothes and gear (like pants, socks, boots and tents). But always handle Permethrin carefully and avoid any direct contact with your skin. Permethrin remains effective even after several washes.


If you feel sick after traveling in Sub-Saharan Africa and you think that you may be infected with African trypanosomiasis, you must consult a doctor immediately. Inform him/her of the countries you have visited, of your activities there and of eventual insect bites.



We make every effort to ensure that the information posted on our website is up to date and accurate according to the latest public health recommendations; however, it is impossible for us to make changes on a daily basis.

For the most current travel health recommendations, please call our clinic as make an appointment with one of our travel health professionals.