Launched in 2012, the rapid diagnostic test for sleeping sickness is the first new test to screen for sleeping sickness since 1978. The test has the potential to change the way sleeping sickness is diagnosed by bringing cheap, easy and rapid testing to patients who live in remote, rural settings. This simple blood test provides a result in 15 minutes.
[Image - tbc - should show testing in the field]
In Guinea, model boats with fluttering bright blue sails are a very effective trap for tsetse flies – the vector for the sleeping sickness parasite, Trypanosoma brucei. Tsetse flies cannot resist the colour bright blue and are strongly attracted by movement, so the boat traps, fixed along river banks, are an irresistible lure.
Tsetse fly boat, Guinea. IRD, French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development, 2019
In 1901 an epidemic of sleeping sickness swept across eastern Africa killing at least 250,000 people. Scottish medic David Bruce investigated the causes of the disease. His studies of blood and brain samples revealed the sleeping sickness parasite Trypanosoma, transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly. His wife Mary Bruce made sketches of the microscopic images of the parasites.