USA tourist on safari in Zambia diagnosed with sleeping sickness (African trypanosomiasis)

A tourist from the USA who visited game parks for 4 weeks in Zambia and Botswana without a guide returned home and was diagnosed with sleeping sickness (African trypanosomiasis). In 2015, a similar case was reported in a Canadian tourist who had also been on safari in Zambia. Sporadic outbreaks of this disease occur in remote areas where the tsetse fly is commonly found.

Visit our Health Library for more information on exposure to and the prevention of Sleeping Sickness (Type 2).

Advice For Travellers

This parasitic disease of humans and other animals is transmitted from animals to human by means of bites by the tsetse fly. There are two types that infect humans, Trypanosoma brucei gambiense, which causes 98% of reported cases, and Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense. Both are most common in rural areas. There is some risk of exposure and infection for travellers undertaking safaris in game parks, especially if they do not use established guides and tour operators. Travellers can minimize the risk by avoiding bites by the tsetse fly.