What's the treatment for sleeping sickness?
If the disease is diagnosed early, the chances of cure are high. The type of treatment depends on the phase of the disease: initial or neurological. Success in the latter phase depends on having a drug that can cross the blood-brain barrier to reach the parasite. Four drugs have been used until now. Without treatment, sleeping sickness will lead to death. Unfortunately, however, those medications effective against the Trypanosoma brucei complex protozoa all have significant potential side effects for the patient. Suramin, eflornithine, pentamidine, and several drugs which contain arsenic (a chemical which in higher doses is highly poisonous to humans), are all effective anti-trypanosomal agents. Each of these drugs, however, requires careful monitoring to ensure that the drugs themselves do not cause serious complications such as fatal hypersensitivity (allergic) reaction, kidney or liver damage, or inflammation of the brain. In short, most drugs are old, difficult to administer in poor conditions and by no means always successful. Early diagnosis of the disease, which would guarantee low-risk treatment on an outpatient basis, can rarely be achieved. It is absolutely necessary that a new producer continues the production and the marketing of Eflornithine, the only currently available medicine which can treat the neurological phase of T.b. gambiense.