Guinea Worm Can Be Defeated with a Sustainable
And Clean Water Supply
The guinea worm is one of
the world’s most infamous parasitic infections. The fight
to prevent guinea worm disease, also known, as Dracunculiasis has
been going strong for over the past 20 years. Thanks to organizations
like UNICEF and other philanthropic foundations, a concerted effort
to provide clean and filtered water to poor nations in Africa has
led to the near eradication of this debilitating disease. Given
that the guinea worm and the disease it fosters is near eradication,
it is critically important to ensure that it does not propagate
due to inadequate drinking water systems.
The key to preventing the spread of guinea worm disease is completely
reliant on having a clean water supply. Should a person drink from
a contaminated well or other water source, the guinea worm will
travel to the intestinal track and will start maturing. An adult
female guinea worm will emerge after about a year, somewhere through
the skin around the lower limbs. This process is both slow and very
painful. Measuring at a maximum length of three feet, the ruptured
skin will prompt an infected host to seek immediate comfort by washing
the infected area. It is through the exposure to water that the
worm will then release millions of larvae into the surrounding water
and thereby lead to the infection of anyone else that drinks or
uses that newly infected water source.
Symptoms of immediate guinea worm infection only occur a few days
before the worm erupts. These symptoms include a blister around
the infected area, intense fever, and pain. The slow extraction
of the worm is the only remedy since there is no vaccine or prescribed
drug to treat an infection.
Contact your physician immediately should you suspect that you or
someone you know may have come into contact with a guinea worm,
or if you contracted guinea worm disease.