Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Waking up to Congo's sleeping sickness.
By Cassie Knight Nkayi, western Congo.

After two years living in the forests of Congo, Maman Louise was ill. Maman Louise is now able to work her fields again"My eyes rolled around my head and I couldn't stop talking. Sometimes I started singing, and then I became aggressive," she says. "I was really bad, even to my own children. I wanted to kill my own son. I threw things at him. I was savage. But I had no idea what I was doing."
Maman Louise had fled her home during the civil war and caught sleeping sickness while hiding in the bush. Sleeping sickness, or Human African Trypanosomiasis, is a disease caused by a parasite carried by the tsetse fly. People can have it for years and suffer nothing worse than fever and headaches.
But once the parasite gets into the brain, their condition deteriorates and they become withdrawn and unresponsive or aggressive, deranged and hyperactive. It can be fatal.
'Resurrection drug' The disease is curable with a drug nick-named the "resurrection drug" for its dramatic ability to bring back patients from the edge of death.


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