Monday, June 05, 2006
The Guinea Worm
Guinea worm is a parasitic worm that infects, grows and matures in humans. The worms are native to Africa, but can be found in remote villages in the Rajastan desert of India and Yemen.
Guinea worm larvae infect water fleas that live in standing water. Those drinking the water become infected. After a period of a year worms reach adulthood and mate with the others inside. They pierce through the intestinal wall. Males of the species die and females travel through the body. They mature to a length of 3 metres ending up near the surface of the skin. Commonly in the lower limbs. They begin to cause irritaion, burning blisters and painful swelling. Carriers feel most soothed in the water where their blisters then burst. The worm comes out and releases millions of larvae into the water. Inside the water the cycle begins again where the larvae are swallowed by water fleas.
Carriers may have a fever, swelling, severe pain and blisters when the worm is ready to come out. The worm can slowly be removed by winding it around a stick and pulling out bit by bit once the blisters have burst over a period of weeks to months. Surgery can also help with a dose of antibiotics.