Guinea Worm Disease (cont.)
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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).
Who is at risk for infection?
Anyone who drinks standing pond water contaminated by persons with GWD is at risk for infection. People who live in villages where the infection is common are at greatest risk.
Is Guinea worm disease a serious illness?
Yes. The disease causes preventable suffering for infected persons and is a heavy economic and social burden for affected communities. Emergence of the adult female worms can be very painful, slow, and disabling. Parents who have active Guinea worm disease may not be able to care for their children. They are also prevented from working in their fields and tending their animals. Because worm emergence usually occurs during planting and harvesting season, heavy crop losses may result leading to financial problems for the entire family. Children may be required to work the fields or tend animals in place of their disabled parents, preventing them from attending school. Therefore, GWD is both a disease of poverty and also a cause of poverty because of the disability it causes.
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