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article imageBig fall in Guinea Worm Disease cases

By Tim Sandle     Jan 14, 2015 in Health
New York - Only 126 Guinea worm cases were reported worldwide in 2014, according to the campaign body The Carter Center. This is down from 148 cases officially reported in 2013. This means that this disease is edging closer to extinction.
The disease in question is unpleasant. Guinea Worm Disease is called Dracunculiasis. It is an infection by the guinea worm (Dracunculus medinensis.) The guinea worm is a nematode and it is among the longest nematodes infecting humans. Females are up to 60 centimeters in length; males are far smaller at only 3 centimeters in length.
Twelve months after the infection with the worm, a painful blister forms and one or more worms emerge accompanied by a burning sensation. To soothe the burning pain, patients often immerse the infected area in water. The problem is that here the parasitic worm then releases thousands of larvae (baby worms) into the water, and when people bathe in the water the cycle is repeated.
Towards the end of last year, Digital Journal reported that only four endemic countries remain and that cases were falling. An initiative by the Carter Center is to make this disease extinct and the efforts put in since the 1980s appear to be working as the countdown edges closer to zero cases.
This week the Carter Center announced that only 126 Guinea worm cases were reported worldwide in 2014. These figures show that cases of the debilitating disease were reduced by 15 percent in 2014. Back in 1986 there were around 3.5 million Guinea worm cases occurring annually throughout Africa and Asia. The new figure thus represents a 99.99 percent reduction.
South Sudan has reported 70 cases from 2014, with most instances being from the Eastern Equatoria state. The remaining cases in 2014 were reported in isolated areas of Chad (13 incidences), Mali (40 cases), and Ethiopia (just 3 cases).
The new total figure was announced by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter at New York press conference to open “Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease,” which is a new exhibition on disease eradication created by the American Museum of Natural History. The new exhibition is concerned with the scientific and social innovations that seeking to rid the world of ancient afflictions.
More about Guinea Worm Disease, Dracunculiasis, Parasite
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