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Chapter 15 : Six Plagues of Africa

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Abstract:

One of the most deadly African diseases is sleeping sickness. It is undoubtedly of African origin and today remains indigenous to that region. Inoculation of blood containing trypanosomes into healthy animals produced surra. Trypanosoma gambiense gives rise to a mild chronic infection found in western and central Africa and is transmitted by riverine species of Glossina (G. palpalis and G. tachinoides) that are associated with human habitation. Asymptomatic individuals may harbor parasites in the blood for long periods of time and could be a source of infection for the vector. The disease is an anthroponosis: fly, to human, to fly, to human. T. rhodesiense is the East African form and is the more virulent subspecies, producing an acute infection. The spread of sleeping sickness was increased about 1890 because of another infection brought into Africa by cattle from outside the continent: rinderpest, a virus of cattle and game with high mortality. Treatment of sleeping sickness is of limited value and depends on early use of rather toxic drugs administered intravenously. Pentamidine, melarsopol, and suramin are all used. River blindness is transmitted by a blackfly called Simulium damnosum, which carries the microscopic infective juvenile stages (called microfilaria) of Onchocerca. The economic and social consequences of river blindness are profound, and surely much of the local history is tied to the progressive depletion of human resources.

Citation: Sherman I. 2006. Six Plagues of Africa, p 312-352. In The Power of Plagues. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816483.ch15
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Figures

Image of Figure 15.1
Figure 15.1

Depiction of Africa looking west with a burden on her back.

Citation: Sherman I. 2006. Six Plagues of Africa, p 312-352. In The Power of Plagues. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816483.ch15
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Image of Figure 15.2
Figure 15.2

The head of a tsetse fly (Glossina), the vector of African sleeping sickness and nagana. (Courtesy of Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.)

Citation: Sherman I. 2006. Six Plagues of Africa, p 312-352. In The Power of Plagues. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816483.ch15
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Image of Figure 15.3
Figure 15.3

A victim of African sleeping sickness. (Courtesy of Wallace Peters.)

Citation: Sherman I. 2006. Six Plagues of Africa, p 312-352. In The Power of Plagues. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816483.ch15
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Image of Figure 15.4
Figure 15.4

Swelling of the lymph node in the neck known as Winterbottom's sign. (Courtesy of Wallace Peters and Peter Janssen, Antwerp, Belgium.)

Citation: Sherman I. 2006. Six Plagues of Africa, p 312-352. In The Power of Plagues. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816483.ch15
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Image of Figure 15.5
Figure 15.5

Line of blind Africans walking with canes. In areas in which river blindness is endemic (Chad, Central Africa), it is not uncommon to see blind adults being led to the fields by children who have not yet lost their sight. (Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.)

Citation: Sherman I. 2006. Six Plagues of Africa, p 312-352. In The Power of Plagues. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816483.ch15
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Image of Figure 15.6
Figure 15.6

The microfilaria of Onchocerca. The microscopic worms are about 300 microns in length, or 20 times the width of the white blood cells.

Citation: Sherman I. 2006. Six Plagues of Africa, p 312-352. In The Power of Plagues. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816483.ch15
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Image of Figure 15.7
Figure 15.7

River blindness. (A) Nodule containing the adult worms of Onchocerca. (Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.) (B) Adult Onchocerca removed from the nodule. The adult female releases live offspring (microfilariae). (Courtesy of WHO/TDR/Baldry Irwin.)

Citation: Sherman I. 2006. Six Plagues of Africa, p 312-352. In The Power of Plagues. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816483.ch15
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Image of Figure 15.8
Figure 15.8

Blindness as a result of Onchocerca infection. (Courtesy of WHO.)

Citation: Sherman I. 2006. Six Plagues of Africa, p 312-352. In The Power of Plagues. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816483.ch15
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Image of Figure 15.9
Figure 15.9

An adult female Guinea worm emerging from a painful and enlarged ulcer. In some cases the adult worm may be removed by slowly and carefully pulling it out and winding it around a pencil or stick. (Courtesy of Wallace Peters and Brian Greenwood.)

Citation: Sherman I. 2006. Six Plagues of Africa, p 312-352. In The Power of Plagues. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816483.ch15
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Image of Figure 15.10
Figure 15.10

Release into water of juveniles of the Guinea worm. (Courtesy of Wallace Peters and Anthony Duggan.)

Citation: Sherman I. 2006. Six Plagues of Africa, p 312-352. In The Power of Plagues. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816483.ch15
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Image of Figure 15.11
Figure 15.11

The one-eyed copepod Cyclops, with a pair of egg sacs. Cyclops eats the juvenile Guinea worms to become infected. Photo by James M. Bell/Photo Researchers, Inc. © 2005 Photo Researchers, Inc.

Citation: Sherman I. 2006. Six Plagues of Africa, p 312-352. In The Power of Plagues. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816483.ch15
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Image of Figure 15.12
Figure 15.12

Hookworms (white and threadlike) attached to the wall of the small intestine (A), where they suck blood using their razor-like teeth (B). (Panel A courtesy of Wallace Peters. Panel B courtesy of Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.)

Citation: Sherman I. 2006. Six Plagues of Africa, p 312-352. In The Power of Plagues. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816483.ch15
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