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Friday, 27 October 2017

Guinea worm

Guinea worms (dracunculiasis) result when a person swallows a small crustacean (cyclopoid) that contains the parasite. The juvenile parasite is released in the gut. This parasite migrates to a position just under the skin, usually in the armpit or junction of the leg to the body.

Males die shortly after mating. The females then migrate to the skin of the arms or legs and cause a blister which contains juvenile parasites. The blister ruptures and the young worms exit.

Cold water is a trigger that causes the female to release the juveniles. In the normal cycle, these juveniles are eaten by the crustacean that is then ingested by the human host.

The historical treatment for guinea worms is to pull them out slowly, centimeter by centimeter, by winding them on a stick. Cold water triggers the female worm to expel enough juveniles to allow about 5 cm of her body to be pulled out. This procedure is repeated once a day. Complete removal of the worm takes about 3 weeks


Guinea worms can also be removed by surgery or eradicated through drug therapy. Metronidazole is the drug of choice, but thiabeudazole or mebendazole can also be used.

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