Posted on | March 2, 2010 | 1 Comment
The only disease to ever be wiped off the face of the earth has been smallpox.
Doctors hope that within a few years Guinea worm will be the second.
Ever heard of Guinea worm? No? Then you are blessed and didn’t even know it did you?
Because chances are if you haven’t heard of the Guinea worm that’s because you aren’t living anywhere near where people are being infected by the Guinea worm. That’s the second reason to consider yourself blessed.
Guinea worm, also known as dracunculiasis, which in Latin means “little dragons”, is contracted by drinking water that has the Guinea worm larvae in it.
And where are the last remnants of this disease still holding on?
Africa. Where else? The only places on earth that people still contract the Guinea worm are Ghana, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, and Sudan.
Scratch. Scratch. Scratch. Scratch. Sratch.
Each one of those places has been scratched off my “to visit” list.
Once the larvae enter into the body, they mate then they can grow up to 3 feet in length. Then when they decide to leave the body, almost a year later, this is where the “little dragon” part comes into play, they excrete some kind of burning acid like substance that burns the human tissue in order to make an opening and then literally thousands of larvae come spewing out all over in every direction as they exit propelled from the built up pressure.
Have you thrown up in your mouth yet?
Well what I am about to write next should top you off.
These worms typically exit from their hosts legs and arms because they burrow themselves next to long bones or joints of the extremities that is where the female bury themselves in order to have a large area to have their babies, but apparently they have been known to emerge from the head, sexual organs and even the eyes.
Apparently the only way they get these things out of the body is to grab the end of one while it is exposed and wind it around a small stick – like twisting spaghetti on a fork until all 3 feet of the worm comes out. The idea for the traditional symbol of medicine, the snake wrapped around a pole, is thought by many to have come from the treatment of the Guinea worm.
I don’t see the traditional symbol of medicine being a stick covered in smallpox.
Oh yeah did I mention that it’s painful as well?
The worm lives inside of the body for up to a year before it is ready to birth itself and be set off into the world and make something of itself.
That is enough to make you want to faint.
You know people keep making these George Romero zombie movies about outbreaks of diseases that turn people into homicidal cannibals, why not step outside that for a second and make a movie about a pandemic of super Guinea worms that gestate and grow within hours instead of months?
Now that idea has blockbuster written all over it.
Smallpox was the first and only disease to be eradicated from the earth and they are saying that the Guinea worm might be next.
Well I should hope so. How smallpox jumped ahead of a disease where thousands of worms can erupt out of someone’s eyeball I am not sure.
In the 20th century alone smallpox killed an estimate 300 – 500 million people.
Guinea worm didn’t kill anyone directly, but I am sure that any disease that can make thousands of worms come flying out of someone’s head or eyes without warning has taken its fair share of lives by way of heart attack.
Let’s not get hung up on technicalities.
Source: Medical assault on the three-foot Guinea worm of Sudan, telegraph.co.uk, February 17, 2010