Guinea worm is a parasite which is also known as dracunculiasis. This worm spread by water and does not live in the gut but under the skin, where it grows to a great length.
SIGNS OF GUINEA WORM
- A painful swelling develops on the ankle, leg, scrotum or elsewhere on the body.
- After a week or more, it looks like a big blister which bursts to form a sore. This often happens when standing in water or bathing. The end of a white thread like guinea worm can be seen hanging from the center of the sore. It discharges tiny worm eggs.
- If the sore gets dirty and infected, the pain and swelling spread and walking becomes impossible. Occasionally, death from tetanus occurs.
GUINEA WORM IS SPREAD IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS :
- Infected person with open sore wades into a water hole. The worm pokes its head out of the sore and lays thousands of eggs into the water.
- Tiny water- fleas pick up the worm eggs.
- Another person drinks some of the water. The fleas with worm eggs are swallowed.
- Some of the eggs develop slowly into worms under the skin but at first, the person feels nothing. About one year later, a sore forms when an adult worm breaks through the skin to lay its eggs.
TO PREVENT GUINEA WORM INFECTION
- Use tap water that is treated for drinking, if available. If a water hole supply is the only one, then do not drink from it directly. Pour the water into a pot through some clean cloth tied over the top. The cloth will filter out the infected water fleas; then boil it before transferring it to a special drinking water pot.
- If the community can build stone steps into the water hole, people can be taught to draw water from the last dry step.
- Another way is to turn the water hole into a well so that people can draw water with rope and buckets
NOTE : IF NO ONE WADES IN THE WATER, THE INFECTION CANNOT BE PASSED ON, AND WILL EVENTUALLY DISAPPEAR FROM THE AREA.
- Keep the sore clean. Soak the sore in cold water to encourage the worm to come out more quickly.
- Attach a thread to the worm or roll it round a matchstick, then pull gently, a little more each day. This takes time. The worm can be a meter long; try not to break it.
- Give metronidazole or thiabendazole to reduce discomfort and make it easier to slowly pull out the worm. If sores become infected, give penicillin or another antibiotic.
- Give anti-tetanus immunization.