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October 1995

Cutaneous Manifestations of African Trypanosomiasis

Author Affiliations


From the Dermatology Service (Drs McGovern, Fitzpatrick, and Gentry), and the Infectious Disease Service (Dr Williams), Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, Aurora, Colo; Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Atlanta, Ga (Dr Cetron); and the Department of Family Practice, US Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo (Dr Hepburn). Dr Cetron is now affiliated with the Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta.

Arch Dermatol. 1995;131(10):1178-1182. doi:10.1001/archderm.1995.01690220084016

Background:  Dermatologists may evaluate patients with African trypanosomiasis. The currently available dermatologic literature does not review the cutaneous manifestations of African trypanosomiasis.

Observation:  We describe an American man who acquired African trypanosomiasis while hunting in Tanzania, and we review and classify the cutaneous findings of this disease. This article reports the results of the first biopsy of a trypanid and depicts trypanosomes on the first touch preparation done from a trypanid biopsy specimen. Rare color photographs of trypanids are shown.

Conclusions:  Recognition of the unique cutaneous manifestations of African trypanosomiasis may allow dermatologists to make a rapid diagnosis that is essential for timely treatment and survival. Classifying the disease with primary chancriform, secondary hemolymphatic, and tertiary central nervous system stages should improve the understanding of the complex natural history of African trypanosomiasis.(Arch Dermatol. 1995;131:1178-1182)