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Counting down a global disease to zero

By Tim Sandle     Dec 10, 2014 in Health
New York - The global Guinea worm eradication program is proving to be successful and a possible zero case count is in sight. A special event is being prepared for January to show the considerable progress made during 2014.
This month Digital Journal reported that only 148 dracunculiasis cases were reported in 2013 (the lowest annual total ever) and only four endemic countries remain. The disease dracunculiasis is also called Guinea worm disease (GWD). The disease is a result of an infection by the Guinea worm (Dracunculus medinensis.) The guinea worm is a type of nematode and it is among the longest nematodes infecting humans.
The disease is contracted when people consume water from stagnant sources contaminated with Guinea worm larvae. Once infected a person suffers agonizingly painful lesion on the skin. After a year the worm emerges and if people then subsequently bathe in contaminated water, the cycle of infection can continue.
It is expected that the case count for 2014 is even lower. In January, The Carter Center (founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter) will announce the new case count. This is to coincide with the opening of an eradication-focused exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
The museum exhibition will be called “Countdown to Zero”. The exhibition presents information about the scientific and social innovations that aim to rid the world of ancient afflictions.
Central to the exhibition is the thirty-year campaign that aims to eradicate Guinea worm disease from the planet. If this is achieved then this will be only the second human disease ever to be eradicated, after smallpox.
The Carter Center helps fund and educate in the fight against six preventable diseases. These are: Guinea worm, river blindness, trachoma, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, and malaria.
In relation to Guinea worm disease, from 1986, The Carter Center has led the international campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease. This has involved working closely with ministries of health and local communities, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
More about guinea worm, Worms, Parasites, nematodes
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