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African Trypanosomiasis

Can I take a medication to prevent African trypanosomiasis?

There is neither a vaccine nor recommended drug available to prevent East or West African trypanosomiasis.

How can I prevent African trypanosomiasis and prevent other insect bites?

  1. Wear protective clothing, including long-sleeved shirts and pants. The tsetse fly can bite through thin fabrics, so clothing should be made of thick material.
  2. Wear khaki or olive colored clothing. The tsetse fly is attracted to bright colors and very dark colors.
  3. Use insect repellant. Though insect repellants have not proven effective in preventing tsetse fly bites, they are effective in preventing other insects from biting and causing illness.
  4. Use bed netting when sleeping.
  5. Inspect vehicles for tsetse flies before entering.
  6. Do not ride in the back of jeeps, pickup trucks or other open vehicles. The tsetse fly is attracted to the dust that moving vehicles and wild animals create.
  7. Avoid bushes. The tsetse fly is less active during the hottest period of the day. It rests in bushes but will bite if disturbed.

For more information:

  1. McGovern TW, William W, Fitzpatrick JE, et al. Cutaneous manifestations of African trypanosomiasis. Arch Dermatol 1995;131:1178-82.
  2. Bryan R, Waskin J, Richards F, et al. African trypanosomiasis in American travelers: a 20-year review. Travel Medicine. Steffen R, Lobel HO, Haworth J, Bradley DJ, eds. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1989:384-8.

See also American trypanosomiasis (also known as chagas disease).

This fact sheet is for information only and is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you have any questions about the disease described above or think that you may have a parasitic infection, consult a health care provider.

WebMD Public Information from the CDC

Reviewed on August 27, 2004
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