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Eradicating Guinea Worm Disease: Taming the "Fiery Serpent"

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, Mali, Ethiopia, Niger, and Nigeria.

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 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:http://www.cartercenter.org/health/guinea_worm/index.html

Watch full version of video (10:00): http://www.cartercenter.org/news/multimedia/HealthPrograms/guinea_worms_last_stand_2008.html

Guinea Worm Countdown: View most recent totals:http://www.cartercenter.org/health/guinea_worm/monthly_update.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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