Who doesn’t love a long, deep sleep? Well, be careful what you wish for, because one bite from the African tsetse fly and you may well be asleep for much longer than you bargained for.
The tsetse (pronounced ‘tetsee’) fly transmits one of the most dangerous parasites to humans, one that causes a tropical disease called African sleeping sickness (sometimes also called human African trypanosomiasis).
African sleeping sickness must be treated, otherwise it can prove fatal. Starting with a non-descript headache, fever and general muscle aches, you might put these symptoms down to anything from a cold to just feeling under the weather. But in time, you’ll become more and more exhausted and you’ll need to sleep pretty much all the time. Then you can expect to become a different person as the parasite takes over your mind and makes you uncoordinated and confused. What’s more, it can take years to kill you.
Parasitic diseases aside, a bite alone from the tsetse fly is a nasty experience. Unlike a bite from a mosquito (that we don’t always even notice), there’s no mistaking a tsetse bite. The mouth on this fly has small saw-like serrations that it uses to literally saw into your skin. Nice, huh?