Prevention & Control

There is no vaccine or drug for prophylaxis against African trypanosomiasis. Preventive measures are aimed at minimizing contact with tsetse flies. Local residents in endemic countries are usually aware of the areas that are heavily infested and may be able to provide advice about places to avoid. Other helpful measures include:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants of medium-weight material in neutral colors that blend with the background environment. Tsetse flies are attracted to bright or dark colors, and they can bite through lightweight clothing.
  • Inspect vehicles before entering. The flies are attracted to the motion and dust from moving vehicles.
  • Avoid bushes. The tsetse fly is less active during the hottest part of the day but will bite if disturbed.
  • Use insect repellent. Permethrin-impregnated clothing and insect repellent have not been proved to be particularly effective against tsetse flies, but they will prevent other insect bites that can cause illness.

The World Health Organization has targeted West African trypanosomiasis  for elimination as a public health problem by 2020. The final goal will be the sustainable disease elimination by 2030, defined as the interruption of the transmission of West African trypanosomiasis. ( icon ). Strategies for elimination of West African trypanosomiasis rests on three strategies: active and passive case finding followed by treatment of the confirmed cases, and vector control to reduce the tsetse population. Reducing the reservoir of infection is more difficult for T. b. rhodesiense, since there are a variety of animal hosts (zoonosis). For this reason, it is not considered feasible to reach total interruption of transmission of East African trypanosomiasis . Vector control is the primary strategy in use but a multisectoral approach (animal health and resource management) is important in reducing transmission.


Page last reviewed: March 9, 2020