top of page

Disease Focus: Dracunculiasis

Dracunculiasis: The Drastic Effects of

Guinea Worm Disease:

Case Studies in Sudan and Ethiopia


Quynh Tran

Guinea Worm: A Brief

by Nicole Kraatz

Guinea worm, caused by the parasitic worm Dracunculus medinensis, is known as a “neglected tropical disease.” This worm is the largest of the tissue parasite infecting humans. It lives in the deep connective tissue of the intestinal tract. Currently, Guinea worm disease is found only in 13 countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Documentation of Dracunculus medinensis dates back to the 11th century in Israel and Persia after calcified worms were found in the preserved bodies of mummies. However, it was not until the 18th century that the Guinea worm was officially classified as a parasitic worm.

The Fight against Guinea Worm in Cases in Mali, Chad, South Sudan, and Ethiopia

by Faisal Joharji

Guinea worm disease is spread by drinking water contaminated with the Guinea worm larvae. In areas were water sanitation is poor and people rely on water from ponds or rivers for drinking, Water fleas consume the larvae, which are then excreted back into the drinking water. The time of growth for a female worm is 10 to 14 months, in which the worm can grow up to 2-3 feet. Once the female worm is ready to leave the body, it will create a blister that causes intense burning sensations that bursts within 24-72 hours. Because the burning sensation of the blister is so strong, many people will put the infected area into water for relief, causing the female worm to fall into the water, releasing millions of larvae for up to several days, thereby beginning the cycle all over again.

Eradication of Guinea Worm in Ethiopia

by Ayaan Omar

Many people with Guinea worm disease usually do not encounter symptoms for about a year. Symptoms that do occur include fever, dizziness, vomiting, itch rash or diarrhea. In addition to the burning sensation caused by the blister, the extraction of the worm from the body is also very painful. If not treated properly, the wound can become infected, causing complications in healing or additional disease. Some of these complications include cellulitis, abscesses, sepsis or tetanus. There are no treatments or vaccines for Guinea worm disease but management of the disease includes caring for the wounds and preventing further contamination by keeping those infected out of drinking water supplies.

Dracunculus is an eradicable disease and it is the first parasitic disease set for eradication by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

bottom of page