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Guinea Worm Disease |

Guinea Worm Disease

Context

∙ The world is on the brink of eradicating Guinea worm disease. 

Eradication of the disease

∙ The disease had more than 3.5 million cases in the 1980s, but according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO), they dwindled to 14 cases in 2021, 13 in 2022, and just six in 2023.

∙ India eliminated Guinea worm disease in the late 1990s, through a rigorous campaign of surveillance, water safety interventions, and community education.

∙ The government of India received Guinea worm disease-free certification status from the WHO in 2000.

Guinea worm disease

∙ Guinea worm disease, also called dracunculiasis, a neglected tropical disease (NTD), 

∙ It is caused by the parasite Dracunculus medinensis.

∙ A person typically becomes infected by drinking water containing water fleas infected with guinea worm larvae.

∙ After infection, around a year later, the adult female migrates to an exit site – usually a lower limb – and induces an intensely painful blister on the skin. 

∙ The open sore left by its exit is also susceptible to secondary infections. 

Signs and symptoms

∙ As the worm migrates to its exit site,  people have allergic reactions, including hives, fever, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

∙ More than 90% of Guinea worm infections manifest in the legs and feet. The individual has an excruciating experience when the adult female worm emerges through the skin. 

Impact

∙ Dracunculiasis, itself  is not lethal, it debilitates those whom it infects and prevents them from performing daily tasks and earning their livelihoods.

Prevention∙ There is no vaccine to prevent the disease, nor is there any medication to treat patients

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