SINCLAIR STAMMERS / LONDON SCHOOL OF HYGIENE & TROPICAL MEDICINE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SINCLAIR STAMMERS / LONDON SCHOOL OF HYGIENE & TROPICAL MEDICINE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Trypanosoma brucei parasites, light microscopy. T. brucei is a protozoan that causes sleeping sickness in humans and the similar nagana in cattle and other animals. It is spread by the bites of infected tsetse flies, which feed on blood, transferring the infective metacyclic trypomastigote stage to humans, and picking up bloodstream trypomastigotes, which continue the life cycle in the fly. The human form of the disease causes intermittent fever, swollen lymph nodes and joint pain, progressing to neurological symptoms including a disrupted sleep cycle, confusion, paralysis, mental impairment and ultimately death. Nagana in animals is very similar and can also be fatal, although many animals in affected areas have developed immunity. These specimens are from an axenic asynchronous culture of T. brucei brucei, which causes nagana. The morphologically similar T. b. gambiense and T. b. rhodesiense cause sleeping sickness in humans. The disease can be treated with drugs such as eflornithine and pentamidine, although damage caused in the neurological stage is irreversible. Filmed using differential interference contrast illumination.
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