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What is Guinea worm?

What do you know about Guinea worm? Why is it called a “silent magistrate’? And what President of the United States said that he wants to see the death of the last Guinea worm before his own death? Find out here.

Guinea worm

Guinea worm is a disease that used to be called another “plague” of Africa. As the official sources say, Guinea worm made lives of more than 3 million people in Africa miserable. It hit more than twenty countries on the continent and was considered a devastating plague no one will ever be able to eradicate.

However, one of the former Presidents of the United States started Guinea worm eradication campaign. After Jimmy Carter had been diagnosed with cancer not so long ago, he announced that he wants to see the death of the last Guinea worm on the planet before he passes away. He knew from the studies and reported how awful the pain and agony people with the Guinea worm experience, and could not stay aside of the problem.

The health of Jimmy Carter has improved since then, and the Guinea worm eradication campaign is at its peak now. The results are better than ever: there were only twenty-two people that caught a Guinea worm in 2015, which is a real improvement compared to the previous years. Moreover, in 2016 only seven people were diagnosed with Guinea worm disease. The prospects to eradicate this disease are quite positive. This disease can become the second disease to be ever eradicated after small pox.

guinea worm disease

After the announcement of the former President Carter about his desire to eliminate Guinea worm disease before he dies, there was a particular Centre organized. The center is called Carter Center. Unfortunately, despite huge improvements in the area, it might still be tough to get rid of the disease on the continent, as it does affect not only people but also dogs that can transmit diseases throughout the continent. Therefore, the scholars are thinking of the ways to prevent disease in both humans and dogs.

The Guinea worm can be caught by individuals who drink water that contains water fleas that that ate Guinea worm slug. This slug gets under one’s skin and can stay there for a year. During this time the worm grows and can reach the length of about three or five feet. This disease rarely claims lives of people but can be almost unbearable. The person with Guinea worm has an itchy feeling and grows under one’s skin until one day it decides to erupt from under it. Usually, it emits from legs or arms. In worse cases, it can erupt from the chest.

The person feels a little bit better when drinking water; however, it is with water that this worm keeps growing and causes incredible pain. The worm cannot be extracted right away. The process of Guinea worm removal is slow and painful. It might take up to several weeks in agony and pain. Different tribes even have sayings about Guinea worms that “knock people down”. People that get Guinea worms cannot function in a normal way, given the constant pain they experience. Therefore, those that used to study, stay home for a long time, while people that worked before, can take sick leaves for as long as a whole year.

guinea worm removal

The campaign against Guinea worm started more than twenty years ago in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, it is thanks to the initiative of Jimmy Carter that it really became the most active. His desire to free people from the sufferings of the Guinea worm led to the launch of a program that was looking for ways to put an end to the disease spreading.

Unfortunately, the studies showed that Guinea worm is resistant to any kind of vaccines. And the even sadder news is that a person can catch several Guinea worms right away. The problem is that once someone got Guinea worm he does not become resistant to the disease. Therefore, people can have several worms simultaneously.

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The locals state that once there was a man who had more than eighty of these worms at the same time. His life was a nightmare, as the blisters, these worms form are painful and itchy.

The Carter Center started a program that helped people that lived in the areas where Guinea worm disease cases were found to have access to clean water and simple aid in the event of illness transmission. As time has shown, simple preventive measures taken by the scientists made the number of disease cases drop significantly. That truly is a success.

guinea worm pictures

However, the disease has spun out of control. As the reports showed, Chad had no Guinea worm cases for the last decade. Unfortunately, in 2010 the first case in years was reported despite the measures taken. The scientists got anxious, as this could indicate that more cases will be declared sooner or later. To their big surprise, more people caught the worm, but they came from different parts of the country, which was very unusual. The trusted sources informed that doctors and other program scholars had no idea what reason could stand behind such a phenomenon.

In the course of studies, researchers came to a conclusion that dogs were spreading the disease. However, they did not get the worm from the water fleas, but rather from the fish they were eating. They believed that fish ate the sick water flea that transmitted Guinea worm, while dogs ate fish. Though the lab staff could not spread Guinea worm to the fish in the lab; they still believed that this is the way it all worked. As a part of an effort to find the source of Guinea, worm dogs catch, scholars from the Carter Center went to Chad as a part of an expensive and time-consuming study last year to take samples of different plants and animals dogs can interact with, and that can transmit the disease.

guinea worm eradication

This study is quite expensive, but it is the only way to eradicate the disease once and forever. Some of the scholars said that when they came to work for Carter Center they had no idea that this study will take so much time. However, it did, and now they are as close to the solution as never before. The fact there were only seven people with Guinea worm registered in 2016 gives them hope and enthusiasm to keep doing what they are doing.

Some of the scientists that spent last 26 years trying to find the source of Guinea worm disease say that they have a Guinea worm in their offices, only in a jar. This helps them remember what people have to face when they get this disease. Keeping in mind this, they keep moving toward the goal!

The scholars are on the threshold of full eradication of the Guinea worm disease, However, as their experience has shown they never state when it will be completely eradicated, as the disease can spin out of control again. They believe they will soon triumph over the illness that made lives of so many people for many years. However, they do not say when this will happen exactly. They strive for the perfection here. So wish them good luck and stay updated on the topic.

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