Disease Nears Extinction
Posted by Charlie Golestani on Jul 18, 2012 - 11:42:42 AM
SOUTH SUDAN—Water-borne illness is the result of 3.4
million deaths worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization,
and one such crippling disease is almost the second of any disease, after small
pox, to be eradicated.
Guinea worm disease or Dracunculiasis, while rarely fatal, has
crippling effects on those harboring the roundworm. Larvae riding the backs of
water fleas are ingested, generally migrate to the lower extremities and
eventually emerge through the skin between 10 and 14 months later, according to
The results are painful blisters or swelling where the
female worms, which can measure anywhere from 60 to 100 centimeters long, burst
through the skin. The host is often bed ridden as a result of the pain.
Extraction of the mature worm. Image courtesy of Vanessa Vick, Redux Pictures
In the mid-1980s, 3.5 million cases of Guinea worm
disease were reported in 20 countries, 16 in Africa alone.
A report from the United Nations states four out of
every 10 people do not have access to clean water, a problem specific to Africa
most recent figures in 2011 showed an approximate 99 percent decrease, down to
1,058 cases, compared with two decades ago and the only reported cases to date
have been in Chad, Ethiopia, Mali and South Sudan.
Sudan, however, represents 97 percent of the reported cases today, accounting
for 1,028 of the cases reported in 2011, according to figures from the Carter
Carter Center has been at the helm of guinea worm disease eradication since its
inception in 1986 by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter.
“We are approaching the demise of the
last guinea worm who will ever live on earth,” [sic] Carter said.
WHO’s Collaborating Center for Research,
Training and Eradication of Dracunculiasis recently reported that as of June
2012, the number of reported cases between January and May was down 57 percent
from numbers taken from the same period in 2011.
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