The evil Guinea worm: Will humanity finally be able to eradicate this threat?


This is nothing for weak nerves: The Guinea
worms migrate past muscles and bones and then dig their way through the human skin on our
feet to deposit their larvae in the water. The worm can only be removed by hand – by
rolling it up on a small stick – piece by piece. An extremely painful infection. There is neither a vaccination nor medication
against it. But now we might actually manage to eradicate
the pathogen soon. Welcome to Clixoom Science & Fiction! Subscribe to the channel to watch all of our
new videos! The infection “Draculus medinensis”, that’s
the scientific name of the Guinea worm, needs us humans to survive – as hosts. It is called “poverty” in Nigeria and the
“disease of empty granaries” in Mali. The infected people are weakened so much that
they can no longer work to earn their money. The infections are not fatal, but very painful. And they pass through unfiltered drinking
water. The worm larvae infest tiny crayfish that
swim in the water. The crabs die, but the parasite larvae have
reached their target. They migrate from the stomach into the intestine,
penetrate the mucous membrane and mate. The male dies shortly afterwards; the female,
on the other hand, migrates to the extremities – mostly to the feet. Until then, it grows to a length of up to
one metre and then deposits its larvae there. About a year after the infection, the worms
begin to drill through the skin of the affected person, usually in the area of the feet and
legs. And that for weeks! When piercing the skin, the host feels great
pain and the affected persons hold their limbs in the cold water of lakes and rivers. The female finally bursts open and releases
hundreds of larvae, which are then taken up again by small crustaceans. So the water is newly contaminated – with
the next generation of larvae. – a bad vicious circle! And that’s exactly where the first step of
the really large-scale extermination campaign began. People are called upon to use close-meshed
substance nets. And so there was actually a plan to eradicate
the parasite successfully by 2015. But it turned out differently than expected,
because the worm had been diverted to another host: Dogs. Probably because people were more difficult
for him to reach. The exact dog-human cycle is still unclear
but it is suspected that the dogs get infected via fish waste and then pass the parasites
on to humans by bringing the larvae back into the water. A fatal setback for the eradication plans! Therefore, as a second important step, fishermen
in affected regions were advised not to simply throw away their fish waste, but to dispose
of it safely. And these measures seem to be bearing fruit:
3.5 million new infections in 21 countries were registered in the mid-1980s. The reason: poor sanitation and lack of access
to clean water. In 2017, 30 cases became known: half each
in Ethiopia and Chad. And the worm that has been tormenting us humans
for thousands of years: Its traces have even been discovered in mummies! The Carter Center, which launched the initiative
to combat the Guinea worm in 1986, is mainly responsible for the eradication campaign. The non-profit organization was founded by
former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife. The sharp decline in infections is good news
because there is no way to help those affected. Donald Hopkins, a Carter Center consultant,
said: “There is no vaccination against the parasite and no effective treatment, so the
campaign focuses on providing clean water and changing people’s behavior. As briefly mentioned above, the worm can actually
only be removed from the body by hand. People usually do it themselves, without medical
help with a small stick. There, a small piece of the worm – about two
centimeters – is rolled up day after day. If it is approached too brashly, it tears
off! Quite a scary thing. Now let’s move on to another scary topic
for most humans: Click here for our video: What does Dying feel like? – Don’t forget to subscribe to the channel
to never miss a video again. Stay tuned, see you soon.

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