What is Guinea worm disease?
How do you get Guinea worm disease?
How widespread is the problem?
Guinea worm disease incapacitates victims for extended periods of time making them unable to work or grow enough food to feed their families or attend school.
How is the disease treated and infection prevented?
Traditional removal of a Guinea worm consists of winding the worm — up to 3 feet (1 meter) long — around a small stick and manually extracting it — a slow, painful process that often takes weeks. The skin lesions often develop secondary bacterial infections, which exacerbate the suffering and prolong the period of disability.
The best way to stop Guinea worm disease is to prevent people from entering sources of drinking water with an active infection and to educate households to always use cloth filters to sieve out tiny water fleas carrying infective larvae.
Educating communities about Guinea worm prevention is vital to stopping the spread of the disease.
Guinea worm disease is set to become the second human disease in history, after smallpox, to be eradicated. It will be the first parasitic disease to be eradicated and the first disease to be eradicated without the use of a vaccine or medical treatment.
What is the Carter Center's role in Guinea worm eradication?
In 2013, approximately 150 cases were reported provisionally, a reduction of about 73 percent from 2012. Today, the vast majority of cases remain in South Sudan, the world's youngest country.
After transmission is interrupted in individual countries, the WHO's International Commission for Certification of Dracunculiasis Eradication will send international certification teams to assess whether transmission of the disease continues or whether it has been stopped.
Depending on the outcome of the assessment, the commission recommends to WHO which formerly endemic countries should be declared free of transmission, i.e., certified as free of the disease.
Political will is needed at all levels to eradicate the disease in the remaining affected countries. Making national eradication programs work in remote rural areas requires enormous dedication and attention to detail by all supervisors charged with executing the campaign. Gaining the understanding and cooperation of the remaining affected communities is necessary in order to make Guinea worm disease a part of history.
Want to learn the more about the history behind the Guinea Worm?
View Interactive Timeline
Download The Timeline (PDF)
Guinea Worm Wrap Up: A Monthly Publication from The Carter Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Current and archived issues from 1983 to present, in English and French (PDF).
Download Fact Sheet (PDF) :
Guinea Worm Facts >>
Dec. 18, 2013: Guinea Worm Cases
Oct. 24, 2013: Slaying 'Little Dragons': Guinea Worm Moves Toward Eradication >