Africa: Guinea Worm Wanes to 28 Cases Globally – Ethiopia, Mali Report Zero Human Cases

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Atlanta — Just 28 human instances of Guinea worm illness have been reported in 2018, down barely from 30 instances reported in 2017. When The Carter Center assumed management of the Guinea Worm Eradication Program in 1986, there have been an estimated 3.5 million human instances yearly in 21 international locations in Africa and Asia.

Of the numerous illnesses that plague humankind, just one, smallpox, has ever been eradicated. Dr. Donald R. Hopkins, who was a key participant within the smallpox campaign and architect of the worldwide Guinea worm eradication campaign and now could be the Carter Center’s particular adviser for Guinea worm eradication, calls illness eradication “the holy grail of public well being.” Guinea worm, polio, and yaws are the one illnesses presently focused for eradication by World Health Assembly resolutions.

During 2018, 17 human instances of Guinea worm illness have been reported in Chad, 10 in South Sudan, and one in Angola. None have been reported in Ethiopia, the place there had been 15 instances in 2017; nor have been any human instances reported in Mali, the place none have been reported since 2015. (Normally a scarcity of instances over such a lengthy stretch would imply a rustic had interrupted transmission of the illness; nonetheless, Mali remains to be considered endemic, partly due to just a few infections in home canines and cats and since massive areas are inaccessible to health workers attributable to insecurity.)

“Each of those instances is a human being with a household and a life,” mentioned Adam Weiss, who was named director of the Guinea Worm Eradication Program in 2018 after almost 15 years working with this system in 4 endemic international locations. “These aren’t just numbers, these are folks. This is why tens of hundreds of volunteers, technical advisers, and employees are working in hundreds of villages to seek out and include the final instances of this depressing illness and present folks how you can wipe it out once and for all.”

All 2018 figures are provisional till formally confirmed in March 2019.

Although the centuries-long story of Guinea worm illness is progressively coming to an finish, the progress took a few turns in 2018: While human instances proceed to dwindle, Guinea worm infections in animals proceed to be reported; South Sudan detected new instances in May throughout enhanced surveillance actions after going 21 months with no instances reported; and a single, remoted case appeared in Angola, a rustic that had by no means reported a case before.

Country particulars:

Chad: Chad reported 17 human instances in 2018, in comparison with 15 the earlier year. Most animal infections have been present in Chad, the place 1,040 canines and 25 cats have been affected in 2018; the variety of reported animal infections there has remained comparatively regular since 2016 following a close to doubling of villages under surveillance.

In Chad, Guinea worm illness seems to be transmitted to canines, cats, and people primarily by consuming uncooked fish entrails and/or different inadequately cooked aquatic animals such as frogs, quite than by way of consuming contaminated water as in most different international locations. To fight this uncommon transmission sample, Chad’s Guinea Worm Eradication Program is emphasizing therapy of our bodies of water with ABATE® larvicide (donated by BASF), burial of discarded fish guts to prevent canines from consuming them and tethering contaminated canines till their worms have totally emerged.

South Sudan: The 10 instances reported in South Sudan occurred amongst an remoted group of nomadic herders who responded to a money reward supply promoted by the nationwide program in newly pacified areas the place insecurity had beforehand restricted entry. The discovery, which prompted a speedy response from the Federal Ministry of Health and The Carter Center, underscores the significance of ongoing surveillance and money rewards for reporting and containing doable human instances and animal infections. South Sudan’s program responded to greater than 29,000 rumors or stories of Guinea worms in 2018 and investigated 99 p.c of them inside 24 hours.

South Sudan has had just one animal an infection, a home canine that was reported in 2015. Political and ethnic violence remains a serious problem to South Sudan’s nationwide program.

Ethiopia: After an remoted outbreak in 2017, the Ethiopian nationwide program intensified interventions, including stringent surveillance, better promotion of money rewards, speedy response to rumors of infections, and aggressive therapy of potentially contaminated water sources, leading to zero human instances in 2018. Ethiopia reported infections in 11 canines, 5 cats, and one baboon, multi function distant district within the southwest.

 Mali: The Mali Guinea Worm Eradication Program has not reported any human instances for 37 consecutive months; it lowered its variety of instances from 16,024 in 1991 to zero in 2016, 2017, and 2018.  Mali’s achievements are tempered by two challenges to utterly interrupting the illness, particularly: constraints to surveillance due to continued insecurity in components of the nation, and up to date detection of Guinea worm infections in 18 canines and two cats. Mali must remove the remaining infections in animals to make sure continued illness elimination in people.

Angola: The government of Angola, The Carter Center, the World Health Organization, and their companions are working onerous to grasp how an 8-year-old lady in southern Angola acquired a Guinea worm regardless of residing greater than 1,000 miles from the closest identified case and in a rustic the place Guinea worm had by no means been detected before.

Kenya: In 2018, the World Health Organization licensed the elimination of Guinea worm illness in Kenya. The final reported indigenous case there was in 1994. The WHO has now licensed a complete of 199 international locations as freed from the illness.

“What the remaining Guinea worm-endemic communities have in frequent is that they’re troublesome to succeed in and sometimes seem in battle areas or amongst distant, marginalized populations. We are working to resolve the scientific riddle of the animal infections; the opposite aspect of the problem, human violence, is pointless and avoidable,” mentioned Dr. Dean Sienko, Carter Center vice president for well being packages and a retired U.S. Army main normal.

Hopkins, a veteran of a number of illness elimination campaigns throughout his four-decade public well being profession, expressed confidence within the final success of the Guinea Worm Eradication Program.

“While the final instances of any illness eradication campaign are essentially the most difficult and most costly, collectively we — the respective ministries of well being, The Carter Center, and our companions — have efficiently addressed sudden developments all through this 38-year eradication campaign,” he mentioned, “and we are going to resolve these newest points as properly.”

Robust analysis efforts are underway to help perceive the peculiar patterns of transmission amongst folks and animals in Chad, Ethiopia, and Mali, and to hunt further instruments for combating the an infection.

About Guinea worm illness

Considered a uncared for tropical illness, Guinea worm illness (dracunculiasis) is often contracted when folks eat water contaminated with tiny crustaceans (copepods) that carry Guinea worm larvae. The larvae mature and mate contained in the affected person’s body. The male worm dies. After a couple of year, a meter-long feminine worm emerges slowly by way of a painful blister within the pores and skin. Contact with water stimulates the rising worm to launch its larvae into the water and begin the method throughout again. Guinea worm illness incapacitates folks for weeks or months, decreasing people’ means to take care of themselves, work, develop meals for his or her households, or attend faculty.

Without a vaccine or medication, the traditional parasitic illness is being worn out primarily by way of community-based interventions to coach folks and alter their conduct, such as teaching them to filter all consuming water and stopping contamination by preserving sufferers from coming into water sources.


The Carter Center has led the worldwide Guinea Worm Eradication Program since 1986 and works carefully with nationwide packages, the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, and lots of different companions. The Carter Center offers technical and monetary help to nationwide Guinea worm eradication packages to help interrupt transmission of the illness. When transmission is interrupted, the Center offers continued help in surveillance and helps international locations put together for official analysis by the International Commission for the Certification of Dracunculiasis Eradication (ICCDE) and certification by the WHO. The CDC offers technical help and verifies that worm specimens actually are Guinea worms.

The presence of Guinea worm illness in an space often signifies abject poverty, including lack of safe consuming water; UNICEF primarily assists international locations by serving to governments present safe sources of consuming water to precedence areas recognized by the nationwide Guinea worm eradication packages. The WHO is the one group that may formally certify the elimination or eradication of any illness.

For a illness to be declared eradicated, each nation on the planet should be licensed freed from human and animal an infection, even these the place transmission has by no means taken place. To date, 199 international locations have been licensed; solely seven haven’t.


Many beneficiant foundations, firms, governments, and people have made the Carter Center’s work to eradicate Guinea worm illness doable, including main help from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID); Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) – United Kingdom; the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development; and the Federal Republic of Germany. Major help from the United Arab Emirates started with Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and has continued under Sheikh Khalifa and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. The DuPont Corporation and Precision Fabrics Group donated nylon filter fabric early within the campaign; Vestergaard’s LifeStraw® donated pipe and family fabric filters in latest years. ABATE® larvicide (temephos) has been donated for a lot of years by BASF. Key implementing companions embrace the ministries of well being in endemic international locations, The Carter Center, WHO, CDC, and UNICEF.

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