Segments in this Video

Breeding Ground of Disease (02:45)


The Congo River provides transportation, water, food, and disease. Tsetse flies spread a parasite that causes sleeping sickness. Villagers believe evil spirits cause personality changes.

Duakombe Village (03:56)

Over 3,000 people live without electricity or running water. Katinga understands tsetse flies spread sleeping sickness but must go to the well several times a day; Maguy Nshole is the lone medical professional. Trypanosomes cause kidney failure and heart disease.

Increased Infection Rates (03:50)

Nshole treats patients with minimal supplies. The Democratic Republic of the Congo spends $ 1 per person on health care. Max Mosengo describes the challenges of living in Duakombe.

Second Stage Trypanosomiasis (03:58)

Nshole suspects one of her patients has sleeping sickness; trypanosomes penetrate the brain. Villagers visit the local witch doctor who specializes in asthma, back pain, and snake bites. Nshole recalls telling Taria's family to go to Nioki hospital for treatmente; villagers pay their respects at the wake.

Trypanosomiasis Testing (04:07)

Sleeping sickness experts obtain Mosengo's cooperation in testing the village of Duakombe. Dr. Florent Mbo is the regional coordinator for the National Sleeping Sickness Control Group. Blood samples are mixed with a reagent and then checked for clumps.

Disease Diagnosis (03:54)

Elise undergoes further testing. Taria's funeral occurs; villagers believe her spirit cannot cross over until she fights to stay alive. Dr. Mbo insists on a lumbar puncture to eliminate sleeping sickness.

Disease Progression (04:33)

Balondwa Namasi tests positive for sleeping sickness and undergoes a lumbar puncture to check for trypanosomes. Dr. Mbo reassures his wife. The drug used to treat the second stage kills one in twenty individuals.

Sleeping Sickness Ward (03:01)

In Nioki, doctors treat malaria, typhoid, and sleeping sickness. Sodefor logs trees and transports them to its factory. Foreign donations provide free treatment for patients with second stage sleeping sickness; Melarsoprol is a derivative of arsenic.

Drug Reactions (03:25)

Reagan Bansekwa suffers an adverse reaction and goes into shock after his first injection of Melarsoprol. Dr. Mbo attempts shorter treatments, but the drug is still toxic.

Spreading Infection (06:54)

Villagers travel from Nioki to Kinshasa on Sodefor barges. Eflornithine is effective in treating second stage sleeping sickness, but patients require many doses. Dr. Mbo and Els Torreele brainstorm how to start a clinical trial in rural endemic areas.

Patient Health (03:31)

Doctors monitor patients for two years after treatment to ensure parasites are gone. Scientists need to develop a better method of oral treatment that could be given in local health centers. The next episode will focus on treatments for malaria.

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The Deadliest Disease

Part of the Series : Survival
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Sleeping Sickness is the deadliest disease in the world. The Democratic Republic of Congo suffers more cases than any other country. Without treatment, parasites called trypanosomes invade the victim’s brain, ravage their sleep cycle, driving them mad before finally killing them. But dedicated doctors and medics are fighting back. We tell the stories of those who have lost family to the disease and of the lucky ones who have survived this deadly disease. This is the heart-rending story of people who have to keep fighting to survive, despite this terrible disease taking lives in their villages every day.

Length: 45 minutes

Item#: BVL188152

Copyright date: ©2018

Closed Captioned

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