Dracunculiasis, more commonly known as Guinea worm disease (GWD) or Medina Worm, is a parasitic infection caused by the nematode, Dracunculus medinensis. The name, dracunculiasis, is derived from the Latin "affliction with little dragons". The common name "Guinea worm" appeared after Europeans first saw the disease on the Guinea coast of West Africa in the 17th century. The painful, burning sensation experienced by the infected patient has led to the disease being called "the fiery serpent". Once prevalent in 20 nations in Asia and Africa, the disease remains endemic in six countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is hoped that Guinea worm disease will be the first parasitic disease to be eradicated and the first disease in history eradicated through behavior change, without the use of vaccines or a cure. Guinea worm disease is only contracted when a person drinks stagnant water contaminated with the larvae of the Guinea worm. There is no animal or environmental reservoir of D.medinensis. The infection must pass through humans each year.
There is no vaccine or medicine to treat or prevent Guinea worm disease. Once a Guinea worm emerges a person must wrap the live worm around a piece of gauze or a stick to extract it from the body. This long, painful process can take up to a month. This is the same treatment that is noted in the famous ancient Egyptian medical text, the Ebers papyrus from 1550 B.C.. Some people have said that extracting a Guinea worm feels like they are being stabbed or that the afflicted area is on fire.Although Guinea worm disease is usually not fatal, the wound where the worm emerges could develop a secondary bacterial infection such as tetanus, which may be life-threatening—a concern in endemic areas where there is typically limited or no access to health care. Analgesics can be used to help reduce swelling and pain and antibiotic ointments can help prevent secondary infections at the wound site


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