Transverse myelitis due to trypanosomiasis in a middle aged Tanzanian man

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We report the case of a middle aged Tanzanian man who developed a spinal cord syndrome over 6 weeks, along with a mild encephalopathy. Investigations ruled out the usual major causes of such a syndrome in our setting in northern Tanzania. Examination of his cerebrospinal fluid revealed trypanosomes, and he made a slow but dramatic improvement after a full course of suramine and melarsoprol. We postulate that he had a transverse myelitis due to African trypanosomiasis, a rare and barely recognised cause.

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