The Fight Against the Guinea Worm

Jimmy Carter's foundation is leading the fight against one of the most disgusting parasites I have ever heard of: the Guinea Worm. Its lifecycle is both amazing and horrifying, which begins when someone injests water contaminated with the worm's larvae:

Once inside the body, stomach acid digests the water flea, but not the guinea worm larvae that are sheltered inside. These larvae find their way to the body cavity where the female mates with a male guinea worm. This takes place approximately three months after infection. The male worm dies after mating and is absorbed. The female, which contains larvae, burrows into the deeper connective tissues or adjacent to long bones or joints of the extremities. Approximately one year after the infection began, the worm creates a blister in the human host's skin--usually on the leg or foot. Within 72 hours the blister ruptures, exposing one end of the emergent worm. This blister causes a very painful burning sensation as the worm emerges. Infected persons often immerse the affected limb in water to relieve the burning sensation. Once the blister or open sore is submerged in water, the adult female releases hundreds of thousands of guinea worm larvae, contaminating the water supply.

You can thank me later for not including photos.

The worm is nearly erradicated and will be the first parasite combatted exclusively through education and simple behavioral modification.

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