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Guinea Worm Just Short of Extinction

By Paris Finnie 

The invasive and painful Dracunculus Medinensis (Guinea Worm) has reached the coda of its lifespan. The Guinea Worm is a parasite that is contracted by drinking water containing water fleas. Those fleas contain worm larva that make their ways through the digestive track to the hosts lower limbs. The larva then resides dormant for about a year until it breaches the the outer layer of skin.  During the course of a couple weeks the adult worm exits its host through a blister commonly found on legs or feet. Symptoms include an exuberant amount pain and burning sensation and those infected whether it be domesticated dogs or humans find relief by submerging the open sore under water, commencing the vicious cycle anew.

The worm has a despicable track record of 3.5 million victims in over 20 countries throughout Asia and Africa, but thanks to the efforts of former president Carter, the number of current infected has dwindled to 22 people. 30 years of effort and one life pledge later Carter has mobilized thousands of volunteers to educate citizens in effected countries on ways to prevent the dissipation of the parasite. Donations of water filtration resources and filtered straws have had tremendous impacts of prevention. However, these victories did come before comprehensive research for president Carter was wise in choosing this formidable enemy.

Unlike swine flu or avian flu, The Guinea Worm attaches to,  as previously understood, to two hosts: humans and domesticated dogs. Studying those targets sets made it much easier for contingency. As of recently however, it was discovered that the remaining 22 people plagued by the parasite contracted the worm from eating raw fish. Throwing a wrench into machine of extinction. The worms of these last hosts have since died and Africans have been educated to properly dispose of fish entrails and cook any fish they plan to ingest. To guarantee the title of extinction there must not be any new reports of outbreaks for three years. If his efforts present themselves successful Carter, now 91 years young, will hopefully be meeting his goal of outliving this vicious parasite.

Source: The Economist 

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