Gambiense human African trypanosomiasis: the bumpy road to elimination

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2022 Oct 1;35(5):384-389. doi: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000860. Epub 2022 Aug 3.


Purpose of review: Gambiense human African trypanosomiasis (gHAT), a disease that has killed hundreds of thousands as recently as the 1990s, could be on the verge of elimination or even eradication. This review describes recent developments that give us reasons for optimism as well as some caveats.

Recent findings: New developments in diagnostic and vector control tools, and especially in treatment, make it possible to strive for elimination of transmission of gHAT by 2030, perhaps even eradication.

Summary: Gambiense human African trypanosomiasis is a deadly infectious disease affecting West and Central Africa, South Sudan and Uganda, and transmitted between humans by tsetse flies. The disease has caused several major epidemics, the latest one in the 1990s. Thanks to recent innovations such as rapid diagnostic tests for population screening, a single-dose oral treatment and a highly efficient vector control strategy, interruption of transmission of the causative parasite is now within reach. If indeed gHAT has an exclusively human reservoir, this could even result in eradication of the disease. Even if there were an animal reservoir, on the basis of epidemiological data, it plays a limited role. Maintaining adequate postelimination surveillance in known historic foci, using the newly developed tools, should be sufficient to prevent any future resurgence.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Trypanosomiasis, African* / diagnosis
  • Trypanosomiasis, African* / epidemiology
  • Trypanosomiasis, African* / prevention & control
  • Tsetse Flies* / parasitology
  • Uganda / epidemiology