Guinea Worm Disease (cont.)
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What are the signs and symptoms of Guinea worm disease?
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Infected persons do not usually have symptoms until about one year after they become infected. A few days to hours before the worm emerges, the person may develop a fever, swelling, and pain in the area. More than 90% of the worms appear on the legs and feet, but may occur anywhere on the body.
People, in remote, rural communities who are most commonly affected by Guinea worm disease (GWD) frequently do not have access to medical care. Emergence of the adult female worm can be very painful, slow, and disabling. Frequently, the skin lesions caused by the worm develop secondary bacterial infections, which exacerbate the pain, and extend the period of incapacitation to weeks or months. Sometimes permanent disability results if joints are infected and become locked.
What is the treatment for Guinea worm disease?
There is no drug to treat Guinea worm disease (GWD) and no vaccine to prevent infection. Once the worm emerges from the wound, it can only be pulled out a few centimeters each day and wrapped around a piece of gauze or small stick. Sometimes the worm can be pulled out completely within a few days, but this process usually takes weeks or months. Analgesics, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can help reduce swelling; antibiotic ointment can help prevent bacterial infections. The worm can also be surgically removed by a trained doctor in a medical facility before an ulcer forms.
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