There were 3.5 million Guinea worm disease cases in 21 countries in Africa and Asia in 1986. According to the Carter Center, 25 human cases of Guinea worm disease in three countries were reported in 2016.

Image/Alvaro1984 18
Image/Alvaro1984 18

The first three months of 2017 , only three cases have been reported, all from Chad.

However, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) Weekly Outbreak Bulletin today, it is reported that there were 21 suspected cases of Guinea worm reported from Tonj East County, in Warrap State in northwest South Sudan.

No additional information is available.

The Carter Center says the neglected tropical disease, Guinea worm disease (dracunculiasis) is contracted when people consume water contaminated with tiny crustaceans that carry Guinea worm larvae. The larvae mature and mate inside the patient’s body. The male worm dies. After a year, a meter-long female worm slowly emerges through a painful blister in the skin. Contact with water stimulates the emerging worm to release its larvae into the water and start the process all over again. Guinea worm disease incapacitates people for weeks or months, reducing individuals’ ability to care for themselves, work, grow food for their families, or attend school.

No vaccine or medical treatment exists for Guinea worm infection in humans. Instead, the ancient disease is being wiped out mainly through community-based interventions to educate and change behavior, such as teaching people to filter all drinking water and preventing contamination by keeping patients from entering water sources.