Nearly 100% of cattle in some areas of Uganda are infected with the parasite that causes the serious illness known as sleeping sickness (human African trypanosommiasis).
In humans and animals alike, the disease can be difficult to recognize as it starts with general symptoms such as fever, headache and joint pains. However, left untreated, sleeping sickness
is always fatal.
A team of scientists from Uganda and the United Kingdom have recently determined that livestock markets represent a major risk for the spread of the acute form of the pathogen, as the disease is most frequently spread to humans by tsetse flies that have been infected by cattle. Their research showed that the villages close to livestock markets had much higher rates of sleeping sickness, which currently takes the lives of some 40,000 Africans every year.
Concern has also been raised that the current spreading of the disease will bring a mixing of its acute and chronic forms, further complicating diagnosis and treatment. Ugandan and British scientists, we are grateful for your work in identifying the link between livestock and this unfortunate affliction. Let us all hasten to switch to plant-based fare as the surest way protect the health of all beings.