Guinea worm: Close to eradication?

With 148 reported cases in 2013, the possibility of eradicating Guinea worm is closer than ever before.

In 1986 there were three and a half million cases of Guinea worm reported worldwide. This number has been reduced to 148 reported cases in 2013, a drastic 99.9 percent reduction according to the Carter Center, which runs the extensive guinea worm eradication programme in countries like South Sudan.

There is no vaccine and no cure for Guinea worm. The great success in reducing infections rates has come from altering human behavior. This includes providing people with water filters so that they do not ingest the water fleas which carry Guinea worm larvae when they drink from local water sources.

Once someone is infected with the worm, practices such as daily bandaging of the wound and preventing those infected from contaminating community water sources.  

However the communities still effected by the disease are located far from city centers in areas that can be difficult for medical professionals to access. This is making the process of curing the last few cases of Guinea worm expensive to monitor and treat. 

Lifelines: The Quest for Global Health will air on Al Jazeera in 2014.