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眠り病とは?!実は怖い「眠り病」について知っておくべき6つのこと

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「眠り病」を十分に理解しておくことは、あなたがアフリカを訪問する際に欠かせないことです。

眠り病とは、アフリカ大陸のツェツェベルト地帯で流行している病気の一種です。現在も、毎年多くの死者を出しています。

眠り病だけでなく、海外に訪問する際には、事前にどのようなリスクがあり、どのように回避すれば良いのか、また万が一危険に遭遇した時にどう対処すれば良いのかを理解しておくことが大切です。

本記事では、眠り病の危険を避けるために知っておくべき6つのことについてご紹介していきます。アフリカに訪問予定のある方は、是非本記事を参考にして頂き、眠り病に対するリスクマネジメントを行えるようにしましょう。

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眠り病を理解することの重要性

眠り病とは、「アフリカ大陸のツェツェベルト地帯に流行しているアフリカ睡眠病の通称のこと」です。

ツェツェベルト地帯に分布しているツェツェバエというハエに吸血されることで、トリパノソーマという寄生性原虫が血液に流入し、それが原因で発症します。

眠り病は、患ったことに気付かずに放置していると、100%死に至る、怖い病です。

眠り病の被害

眠り病は、「現在も年間4万人が死亡しており、6000万人が感染リスクのある地域に居住」しています。

国境なき医師団の活動によって、アフリカ睡眠病の被害は減少してきましたが、それでもなお現在も、多くの死者を出しています。

安全な治療法は現在においても発見されていないため、アフリカに渡航する際には、あなたの訪問する地域が該当地域に含まれていないか、含まれている場合どう対策をすれば良いのかを理解することが重要です。

眠り病を避けるために知っておくべき6つのこと

眠り病を回避するためには、「ツェツェバエの生息地域に近づかないこと」と「ツェツェバエに刺されないように工夫すること」が大切です。

以下で、具体的な情報について見ていきましょう。

1.眠り病の流行地

眠り病には、「ガンビア型」と「ローデシア型」の2種類があり、それぞれに流行地域が異なります。

  • ガンビア型:中央アフリカから西アフリカにかけて流行し、特に川の流域近くに多く生息しています。
  • ローデシア型:東アフリカにかけて流行し、特にサバンナなどの森林地帯に多く生息しています。

2種類の眠り病が、同一地域に混在することはありません。しかし、ウガンダ共和国に関しては、一つの国内に両タイプの眠り病が存在しています。

2.眠り病の感染経路

眠り病には、ツェツェバエというハエに吸血されることで、寄生性原虫が血液に流入し、それが原因で感染にいたります。

ツェツェバエは次のような特徴があります。

  • 体長は5mm〜10mm程度
  • 人獣かまわず吸血する
  • 特に気温の暖かい日中の時間帯に吸血することが多い

また、母子感染や輸血による感染の例もあるため、アフリカ地帯で輸血をしてもらう事態になった場合にも注意が必要です。

3.眠り病の潜伏期

眠り病は、「感染から初期症状の発症まで1~3週間程度」かかります。

また、ローデシア型は比較的初期の進行が遅いため、初期症状の発症までに数ヶ月〜1年程度かかる場合もあります。

該当地域に渡航する際には、定期的に眠り病の検査を受けることで、早期に発見し、治療を行うことができます。

4.眠り病の症状

眠り病の初期症状には、「発熱や頭痛、悪寒や間接痛」など、風邪によく似た症状が見られます。

しかし特徴的なのは、「ウィンターボトム症候」という、首筋裏側のリンパ節膨張が見られることです。この症状が見られた場合には、早期に医師の治療にかかるようにしましょう。

初期症状が過ぎると、次のように進行していきます。

  • 精神不安定
  • 錯乱状態
  • 昼夜逆転の生活リズム
  • 日中の異常な眠気
  • もうろうとした状態になる
  • 昏睡状態に陥り、死に至る

医師の治療を受けなかった場合、ローデシア型では1~3ヶ月、ガンビア型では数ヶ月から数年で死に至ります。

また、現在も安全な治療法は確立されていないため、初期症状以降での治療では、神経系の後遺症が残るころがあります。

5.眠り病の治療法

眠り病の治療は、「専門の医師による薬剤投与」によって行われます。

病状の進行具合によって投与する薬剤が異なり、進行が進むほど、命を落とす可能性や後遺症が残る可能性が高くなるため、早期に治療を受けることが大切です。

該当地域に渡航する際には、必ず専門の医師がどこにいるのか、診察を受けることをできるか、安全面について確認しましょう。

6.眠り病の予防・対策方法

眠り病を予防・対策するためには、「ツェツェバエの生息地域に近づかないこと」と、万が一訪問するのであれば、「ツェツェバエに刺されないようにすること」が大切です。

ツェツェバエに吸血されないために、次の工夫をしていきましょう。

  • 手首や足首、首もとなどの隙間を隠す
  • 服の上から刺されても吸血されない厚手の洋服を着る
  • 目立たない色の服を着る
  • ディートと呼ばれる化学成分を含む防虫剤を衣服に塗布する

1日の終わりには、必ず刺された形跡がないか体をチェックするようにしましょう。万が一吸血された恐れがある場合は、すぐに医師にかかるようにし、早期の治療を受けるようにしましょう。

まとめ:身の安全をまず確保する

ここまでで、眠り病を対処するために知っておくべき6つのことについてご紹介してきました。最後にもう一度、6つのポイントについて振り返りましょう。

  • 眠り病の流行地域を理解する
  • 眠り病の感染経路を理解する
  • 眠り病の潜伏期を理解する
  • 眠り病の症状を理解する
  • 眠り病の治療法を理解する
  • 眠り病の予防・対策方法を理解する

上記のポイントを理解し、「ツェツェバエの生息地域に近づかないこと」と「ツェツェバエに刺されないように工夫すること」で、眠り病の感染を避けることができます。

アフリカ渡航の予定のある方は、是非本記事を参考にして頂き、無事に、そして安全に、アフリカ渡航を終えることができるようにしていって下さい。

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