Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Health workers hail near defeat of flesh-burrowing worm

Health workers on Friday celebrated a key step towards eradicating the flesh-burrowing guinea worm after South Sudan, once by far the worst-affected country, recorded a massive drop in infections.

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Six human parasites you definitely don't want to host

Parasites are fascinating. They are uniquely adapted to survive, in some cases through very complex life cycles. There's also research to suggest that some may even change the behaviour of hosts to assist them in their quest ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Jimmy Carter: Guinea worm cases decreasing

Guinea worm disease cases were cut to less than 600 in 2012, marking significant progress in eradicating the parasitic infection, former President Jimmy Carter said Thursday.

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Carter Center gets $40M to eradicate Guinea worm

(AP) -- The Carter Center on Monday announced it received $40 million in donations to help fuel its mission to eradicate Guinea worm disease, a debilitating parasite that once plagued millions of people across the developing ...

Dracunculiasis ( /drəˌkʌŋkjəˈlaɪ.əsɪs/), also called guinea worm disease (GWD), is a nodular dermatosis produced by the development of Dracunculus parasite in the subcutaneous tissue of mammals.Dracunculus medinensis has been reported in humans, dogs, cats, horses, cattle, and other animals in Africa and Asia. Dracunculus insignis is a parasite of dogs, raccoons, mink, fox, otter, and skunks of North America. Dracunculus medinensis is a long and very thin nematode (roundworm). The parasite enters a host by way of ingesting stagnant water contaminated with copepods infested with guinea worm larvae. Approximately one year later, the disease presents with a painful, burning sensation as the female worm forms a blister, usually on the lower limb.

Once prevalent in 20 nations in Asia and Africa, the disease remains endemic among humans in only four countries in Africa.

The guinea worm is one of the best historically documented human parasites, with tales of its behaviour reaching as far back as the 2nd century BC in accounts penned by Greek chroniclers. It is also mentioned in the Egyptian medical Ebers Papyrus, dating from 1550 BC. The name dracunculiasis is derived from the Latin "affliction with little dragons" while the common name "guinea worm" appeared after Europeans saw the disease on the Guinea coast of West Africa in the 17th century.

The Carter Center has predicted that guinea worm disease "will be the first parasitic disease to be eradicated and the first disease to be eradicated without the use of vaccines or medical treatment".

The primary mode of prevention is through behaviour change, alongside the provision of clean water sources and the treatment of contaminated drinking water with larvicides. There is no animal or environmental reservoir of D. medinensis and thus the parasite must pass through a host each year to survive.

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