Cows and Sleeping Sickness

November 8, 2011 | CUNY Lecture Series, Hunter College

Each year an estimated 30,000 people in 36 sub-Saharan countries are infected by a tsetse fly-borne disease — Human African trypanosomiasis, also know as sleeping sickness — that hosts in cattle and, if left untreated, is fatal. “Cows are used by women to help plow fields,” said Jayne Raper, professor of biological sciences at Hunter College, explaining the integral part the animals have in the daily life. “They eat grass, don’t drink a lot of water, and the manure is used in the fields and as fire bricks,” Raper said in her CUNY Science Cafe lecture, “Saying ‘Good Night’ to Sleeping Sickness.” Raper recently received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to use for the development of a trypanosome-resistant breed of cattle.