Guinea Worm :: World moves closer to eradicating ancient worm disease

A neglected tropical disease that has afflicted people since ancient times has moved a step closer towards eradication.

In early March, 12 more countries were declared guinea worm-free by the International Commission for the Certification of Dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease) Eradication (ICCDE).

If progress continues at this rate, in less than two years guinea worm could become the second disease after smallpox to be pushed into oblivion.

In the early 1980s, an estimated 3 million people in more than 20 countries were affected by dracunculiasis, more commonly referred to as guinea-worm disease (GWD). Today, that number has significantly dropped to about 25 000 cases in nine countries.

“This is the culmination of years of effort by local and international groups to see this disease eradicated,” says Dr Lorenzo Savioli, Director of Neglected Tropical Diseases at WHO. Since its creation in 1995, the commission has certified 180 countries as free of guinea worm. The commission is now moving closer to its 2009 target for eradication of the disease worldwide.

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