When an infected tsetse fly bites humans or other mammals to feed on their blood, microscopic parasites (African trypanosomes) in the fly’s saliva are transferred. The unfortunate recipient of the bite, once infected, often faces severe health consequences, even death.
Unfortunately, current public health approaches to control African sleeping sickness are limited. Diagnosis and treatment are especially difficult in remote areas of sub-Saharan Africa where the disease is pronounced. To complicate matters further, the trypanosomes have evolved so that they can evade their victim’s immune response and sustain an infection.