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Dracunculiasis

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Bunter
57357.  Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:13 am Reply with quote

What's three foot long and dangles from 3.5 million Africans?



A: The Guinea worm.

Guinea worm disease - also known as dracunculiasis - is a parasitic worm infection that occurs mainly in Africa, affecting a vast swathe of the African population.

Infection occurs by drinking standing water containing a tiny water flea that is infected with the even tinier larvae of the Guinea worm.

The immature worms pierce the intestinal wall over the course of a year and grow to adulthood, before mating.

The males die, and the females make their way through the body, maturing to a length of as much as 3 feet, before ending up near the surface of the skin, usually in the lower limbs.

Unsurprisingly, the worms cause swelling and create painful blisters which then open into a wound.

When the wound is immersed in water, the worm pokes her head out looking for water.

The really bad news is that there is no cure. The only treatment is to remove the worm over many weeks by winding it around a small stick and pulling it out a tiny bit at a time. Sometimes the worm can be pulled out completely within a few days, but the process usually takes weeks or months.

 
Beep
189196.  Sun Jul 08, 2007 3:54 pm Reply with quote

I'm trying (not) to visualise this ghastly creature sitting waiting patiently for its daily stick workout.

If I had one, I'd be tempted to dive and see if the water pressure would encourage its departure.

 
smiley_face
189201.  Sun Jul 08, 2007 4:44 pm Reply with quote

Beep wrote:
I'm trying (not) to visualise this ghastly creature sitting waiting patiently for its daily stick workout.

If I had one, I'd be tempted to dive and see if the water pressure would encourage its departure.

Surely the water pressure would just push it further into the body. Perhaps a trip into the upper atmosphere would be more appropriate.

 
Beep
189202.  Sun Jul 08, 2007 4:49 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
When the wound is immersed in water, the worm pokes her head out looking for water.

 
smiley_face
189203.  Sun Jul 08, 2007 5:19 pm Reply with quote

Yer, that's true, but there's quite a difference between putting a limb in a bowl of water/bath, and going diving, where the pressure increases hugely. If you've ever SCUBA dived, you'll know that it's a significantly harder to pee 15 metres down than at the surface. (And yes, I do pee in the sea when I'm diving, alright!)

 

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