The Guinea worm Dracunculus medinensis grows up to 0.6m long and is parasitic on man. Humans are the main reservoir, and transmission is easy to interrupt, so it should be possible to eliminate the disease which is now mostly confined to Southern Sudan. DNA analysis has shown that dogs, cattle and horses can also be final hosts, although Dracunculus insignis is the classic roundworm species that infects wild carnivores. It has been known since 1870 that the intermediate hosts are copepod crustaceans (Halicyclops korodiensis, Africyclops curticornis and Tropodiaptomus spp.)found in stagnant water. Stopping the drinking of such water sources or treating the water will interrupt the life cycle.
- Safe water supply - bores, boiling/filtering.
- Temephos (Abate® larvicide) treatment water four weekly to eliminate copepods
- Health education (typical belief systems are that infection is due to inherited susceptibility).
- Active case identification & management
Dracunculiasis is treated by careful (slow) extraction of the worm from host tissues, classically when its head is discovered in a leg ulcer, by winding over a match stick. Death of the worm within the host can lead to life threatening anaphylactic shock.