The Eradication of Guinea Worm in Africa

Essay by danceonskisJunior High, 9th gradeA+, November 2003

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"The "fiery serpent," as it is commonly called throughout the world, has been around for centuries. It's even been found in 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummies." (

Have you ever heard of the Guinea Worm Disease, or wondered what it is? Dracunculus Medinensis, or Guinea Worm, is an atrocious disease that affects countries primarily in Africa and Asia. Many countries are now instigating efforts to eradicate the gruesome, excruciating horrors of the Guinea Worm Parasite.

What is a Guinea Worm?

D-Medinensis, more commonly known as Guinea Worm, is "An infection of the subcutaneous and deeper tissues by a large nematode." (Abram S. Benenson, 122) The "Water Fleas" that are involved in the life cycle of Guinea Worm are also referred to as 'Cyclops'.

In the water, the larvae are swallowed by small copepods "water fleas." The worms mature inside the water flea and become infective in about 10 days.

Once the worms have matured inside the water flea, any person who swallows contaminated water becomes infected. Once inside the body, the stomach acid digests the water flea, but not the Guinea worm. During the next year, the Guinea worm grows to full size adult. Adult worms are up to 3 feet long and are as wide as a spaghetti noodle. (

The juvenile worms migrate through the intestinal tract, into the abdomen, and then on through other tissues of the body. "At this point the females are fertilized by the males, and the males die. The females then migrate to the skin, reach sexual maturity, and produce juveniles." (

After about a year, the female worms migrate to the surface of the body. When the worm comes near the surface, a blister forms on the skin where the worm will emerge.

For relief, persons will immerse the affected skin...