Guinea Worm Disease: ‘We are heartened that eradication can be achieved soon,’ says former President Carter


news desk Lord, save her

the Carter Center Today I announce that in 2022, only 13 human cases of Guinea worm disease will be reported worldwide.

Guinea worm
Image/video screenshot

The provisional figure is the lowest annual total ever reported. When the Carter Center assumed leadership of the global Guinea worm eradication program in 1986, about 3.5 million human cases occurred annually in 21 countries in Africa and Asia.

The record issue pleased former US President Jimmy Carter, who co-founded it Carter Center in 1982 with his wife, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

“Rosalyn and I are pleased with this continued progress toward eradicating Guinea worm disease,” said President Carter. “Our partners, especially in the affected villages, work with us daily to rid the world of this scourge. We are glad that eradication of the disease can soon be achieved.”

The 13* cases in 2022 represent a decrease of 13% from 2021, when 15 cases were reported. (*All figures are tentative until officially confirmed, usually in March). Guinea worm is poised to become the second human disease to be eradicated in history, after smallpox, and the first without a drug or vaccine. Community and innovative behavior change and local mobilization are the main drivers of success.

Guinea worm eradication programme Director Adam Weiss said: “We continue to study ways to overcome and prevent this infection. Community members, ministries of health and our partners are working with us to implement effective interventions, including research to find innovative solutions. We will not stop until the last Guinea worm is gone.”

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During 2022, six human cases of Guinea worm disease were reported in Chad. Five human cases have been reported in South Sudan, one in Ethiopia, and one in the Central African Republic, and are still under investigation (cases can be transferred from endemic countries to non-endemic countries).

Guinea worm infections in animals decreased by 21%: Chad reported 605 animals, Mali reported 41, Cameroon 27, Angola 7, Ethiopia 3 and South Sudan one. The worms that infect animals are of the same type (D. medinensis) such as those of humans; Therefore, eradication requires stopping infection in both.

It has also been announced The Democratic Republic of the Congo sought and obtained certification from the World Health Organization that it had eradicated Guinea worm disease. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has not reported any cases of the disease since 1958.

In order for the disease to be declared eradicated, every country in the world must be free of human and animal infection, even countries where transmission is not known. To date, the World Health Organization has certified 200 countries free of Guinea worm; Only six have not been approved. After three consecutive years of indigenous transmission, Angola was added to the list of endemic countries in 2020; However, the country reported no human infections in 2021 and 2022. Cameroon was certified by the World Health Organization as Guinea worm-free in 2007; This country reported one case in 2019 and one case in 2020 (both likely imported from Chad) but it is not endemic because it has not had three years of local transmission.

Guinea worm disease is usually transmitted when people consume water contaminated with tiny crustaceans (called copepods) that eat Guinea worms (Dracunculus medinensis) larvae. The larvae develop into adults inside the human host. After about a year, a meter-long pregnant worm slowly emerges through a painful blister in the skin, often on the legs or feet. The patient may seek relief by dipping the affected limb in water. However, contact with water stimulates the emerging worm to release its larvae and start the cycle all over again. Guinea worm disease disables people for weeks or months, reducing individuals’ ability to care for themselves, work, grow food for their families, or attend school.

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