Dracunculiasis

Dracunculiasisis, otherwise known as guinea worm disease, is an eradicable disease caused by the parasitic worm Dracunculus medinensis. Infection occurs when a person drinks water containing infected cyclops with the intermediate host being D. medinensis.

The disease was widespread at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1980, transmission was limited to 20 countries only. By the end of 2009, only four countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali and Sudan) had indigenous cases, and the annual incidence was 3190 cases compared to 3.5 million in 1986. Sudan alone accounted for 86% of all cases reported in 2009. Dracunculiasis transmission, after the separation of Sudan, is limited to South Sudan only.

Ethiopia, Ghana and Mali are expected to have interrupted transmission in 2010. South Sudan still needs a few years to interrupt transmission.

Several donors are supporting activities of eradication, including The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The United Kingdom’s Department of International Development. Both WHO and The Carter Center are campaigning to secure funds to fill the gap between the estimated amount needed for eradication (US$ 72 million) and the pledged amount by the donors.