Dracunculiasis, or commonly known as Guinea worm disease, is transmitted by drinking stagnant water contaminated by the worm Dracunculus medinensis. It is a painful and devastating disease affecting those in poor, remote communities that lack safe drinking water. Inside the human body, the worm matures and grows up to 1 meter long within a year after incubation. The matured worm creates an agonizingly painful lesion on the skin and slowly emerges from the body, usually the feet. Affected persons are disabled for extended periods of time, making them unable to care for themselves and family, to attend work or school, and to participate in the community. Since there is no known curative medicine or vaccine to prevent dracunculiasis, therapy consists of the removal of the worm by winding the worm around a small stick and manually extracting it. This is a slow and painful process that often takes weeks.
Almost achieved eradication - Guinea Worm Eradication Program
The Carter Center is one of the many organizations that has directed this international campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease. It supports the ministries of health to establish community-based interventions to provide health education with the purpose to change the behaviour regarding the use of contaminated water resources. In 1986, there were over 3,5 million cases per year worldwide. Thanks to the Guinea Worm Eradication Program only 22 cases were reported in 2015 in South Sudan, Mali, Chad and Ethiopia. Moreover, at least 80 million new cases were averted among the most neglected people. Therefore, it seems that the disease will become the first parasitic disease in history to be eradicated without the use of a vaccine or medicine.