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.
Where is Guinea worm disease found?
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Dracunculiasis now occurs only in 5 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Transmission of the disease is most common in very remote rural villages and in areas visited by nomadic groups. In 2007, the two most endemic countries, Sudan and Ghana, reported 9,173; 5,815 and 3,358 cases of Guinea worm disease (GWD), respectively. Other endemic countries reporting cases of GWD in 2007 were: Mali (313 cases), Nigeria (73 cases), and Niger (14 cases).
Asia is now free of the disease. Transmission of GWD no longer occurs in several African countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritania, Senegal, Togo, and Uganda. No locally acquired cases of disease have been reported in these countries in the last year or more. The treat of case importations from the remaining endemic countries requires that surveillance be maintained in formerly endemic areas until official certification. The World Health Organization has certified 180 countries free of transmission of dracunculiasis, including six formerly endemic countries: Pakistan (in 1996), India (in 2000), Senegal and Yemen (in 2004), Central African Republic and Cameroon (in 2007).
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