Trypanosoma brucei : African Sleeping Sickness
Symptoms: Sore develops at the site of a fly bite -- heals after 1-2 weeks. Swollen lymph nodes -- neck, groin, legs. Winterbottom's sign (swollen cervical lymph node) is diagnostic. Intermittent fever, pain, weakness, cramps.
T. gambiense sp. : Chronic form -- central nervous system involvement, apathy, mental dullness, lack of coordination, tremors of hand/ tongue / trunk, changes in personality.
T. rhodesiense sp. : Acute form -- rapid weight loss, heart is affected, no extensive nervous disease (nervous system is invaded, but individual dies before manifestation of nervous system pathology), death occurs in months.
John Bunyan writes in Pilgrim's Progress about an "enchanted land" -- in which the pilgrims fight off extreme drowsiness on their way to the celestial city. I was struck (as I studied the above parasite) by the spiritual parallels. One of the most dangerous parasites -- one which can kill a person within months -- is one which literally makes them fall asleep.
I have found that fighting off spiritual stupor is a daily battle. I believe we're close to the promised land. Treatment for Trypanosoma brucei is very harsh -- and eukaryotic targets are difficult to treat differentially: what's hard on T. brucei is hard on us. The apostle Paul describes the treatment for spiritual sleeping sickness in Romans; it is so harsh it's lethal. Thankfully, God is more than able to recreate those He has redeemed into a newness of life that is fully centered in each moment.
"Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Ephesians 5:14