While insecurity remains the largest threat to the final push to eliminate Guinea worm disease from Sudan, the main—and potentially the last—bastion of the parasitic water-borne disease, the mass population movements of nomadic pastoralists in Southern Sudan pose an additional challenge.
Read the feature: Nomadic Groups Pose Challenge in Push to Eliminate Guinea Worm
When The Carter Center began leading the campaign to eradicate Guinea worm in 1986, there were an estimated 3.5 million cases of the disease in 20 countries in Africa and Asia. Today, less than a fraction of one percent of Guinea worm cases remain in a handful of endemic countries: Sudan, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Mali.
Guinea worm disease is contracted when a person drinks stagnant water that is contaminated with microscopic water fleas carrying infective larvae. Inside a person's body, the larvae grow for a year, becoming thin thread-like worms, up to 1-meter or 3-feet-long.
These worms create agonizingly painful blisters in the skin, through which they slowly exit the body. People with emerging worms must not bathe or step in sources of drinking water, because a worm will release hundreds of thousands of eggs, or larvae, into the water. Water fleas then eat the larvae, and people who drink unfiltered water from the pond become infected -- continuing the life cycle of the parasite.
Learn more about the Center's Guinea Worm Eradication Program:
Learn more about the Carter Center's work in Sudan: http://cartercenter.org/countries/sudan.html
Founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter in partnership with Emory University, The Carter Center is committed to advancing human rights and alleviating unnecessary human suffering. The Center wages peace, fights disease, and builds hope worldwide.
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