Guinea Worm Disease (Dracunculiasis, End of the Road Disease)
A parasitic disease caused by infection with the guinea worm (Dracunculus medinensis), the largest parasite known to plague people. Guinea worm disease is also called Dracunculiasis and end-of-the-road disease because it is not seen in the big cities. Once it infects a person, the guinea worm migrates through the body. It eventually emerges from the body (through the feet in 90% of cases) causing intensely painful edema (swelling), a blister and then an ulcer. Perforation of the skin by the guinea worm, which can be 6 feet long, is accompanied by fever and nausea and vomiting. Infected persons may remain sick for some months. The disease is gotten by drinking water contaminated with the infected intermediate forms of the parasite, called cyclops. The full-grown guinea worm begins to migrate throughout the infected person’s body within about a year after ingestion.