10-Mar-2003 -- On our voyage from Warri (Delta State, Nigeria) to Pointe Noire (Republic of Congo) with our last consignment of frozen mackerel, today we passed the Island of São Tomé, in whose vicinity the Confluence 0N 7E lies.
The population of the Democratic Republic of São Tomé e Príncipe is about 120,000. The islands are volcanic in origin and remarkable for their needle-shaped peaks.
The islands of Príncipe and São Tomé are said to have been discovered by João de Santarem and Pedro d'Escobar about the year 1470 or 1471, and constituted a Portuguese province since 1552. The first-named was called after the Prince, eldest son of King Alfonso V, and the second received its name from the fact that it was discovered on St. Thomas' day. In July 1975 the province was formally granted independence by Portugal. Cocoa is the staple product of the islands, both of which have two harvests annually.
The sea around São Tomé is very clear. It is very mountainous and with Pico de São Tomé it attains an elevation of 2,023 m (6,638 ft). The sides of this peak are covered with dense forest and down them flow numerous streams.
In consequence to the luxuriant vegetation and dense forests the islands are not healthy, though Ilha do Príncipe has been cleared of the tsetse fly.
The evil tsetse fly is the transmitter of the African Trypanosomiasis, better known as the "sleeping sickness", spread in many West and East African countries. The tsetse fly is preferably biting during the day. Men are the preferred hosts, especially in West Africa (in East Africa it is cattle). The incubation period varies from several weeks until many years. The first symptom is a painful trypanosomal shanker at the spot where the fly has bitten, which will heal again after a few weeks. In the West African form shortly after the hemolymphatic stadium of the sickness (Stadium I) will begin. The patient suffers intermittent fever, accompanied by itching annular exanthema. A classic sign (Winterbottom's sign) is the swelling of the rear cervical lymph nodes, and additionally hepatosplenomegaly, myxedematic swellings of the face, headache, and considerable loss of weight may occur. The immune system is severely over-stimulated, causing a weakening of the same.
With the West African form of the sleeping sickness usually months until years will pass until the meningoencephalitic stadium (Stadium II) breaks out. The parasites cause a progredient meningoencephalitis or meningomyelitis. The patients suffer lack of concentration, changes of their personality, increased aggressivity, the rhythm of sleeping and being awake is disturbed and they are unable to eat. If not treated properly, the sickness is lethal.
Information obtained partly from Nautical Publication Nr. 2, Africa Pilot, Vol II, "West Coast of Africa from Bakasi Peninsula to Cape Agulhas", 12th ed. 1977 and Supplement Nr. 11, 1999, British Admiralty, Hydrographer of the Navy, Ministry of Defense, Taunton, England)