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    "When many cures are offered for a disease, it means the disease is not curable" -Anton Chekhov

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    Sunday, March 26, 2006

    Pests and Pestilence: Truly, it must be horrible to live in sub-Saharan Africa. Consider the Guinea worm:

    Adult female Dracunculus worms emerge from the skin of Infected persons annually. Persons with worms protruding through the skin may enter sources of drinking water and unwittingly allow the worm to release larvae into the water. These larvae are ingested by fresh water copepods ('water fleas') where these develop into the infective stage in 10-14 days. Persons become infected by drinking water containing the water fleas harboring the infective stage larvae of Dracunculus medinensis.

    Once inside the body, the stomach acid digests the water flea, but not the Guinea worm. These larvae find their way to the small intestine, where they penetrate the wall of the intestine and pass into the body cavity. During the next 10-14 months, the female Guinea worm grows to a full size adult 60-100 centimeters (2-3 feet) long and as wide as a cooked spaghetti noodle, and migrates to the site where she will emerge, usually the lower limbs.

    A blister develops on the skin at the site where the worm will emerge. This blister causes a very painful burning sensation and it will eventually (within 24-72 hours) rupture. For relief, persons will immerse the affected limb into water, or may just walk in to fetch water. When someone with a Guinea worm ulcer enters the water, the adult female releases a milky white liquid containing millions of immature larvae into the water, thus contaminating the water supply. For several days after it has emerged from the ulcer, the female Guinea worm is capable of releasing more larvae whenever it comes in contact with water.

    ....Once the worm emerges from the wound, it can only be pulled out a few centimeters each day and wrapped around a small stick. Sometimes the worm can be pulled out completely within a few days, but this process usually takes weeks or months.

    No medication is available to end or prevent infection. However, the worm can be surgically removed before an ulcer forms. Analgesics, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can help reduce swelling; antibiotic ointment can help prevent bacterial infections.

    Fortunately, it's been eradicated in much of the world, thanks to the use of pesticides. But it remains in Africa thanks to civil strife and sacred ponds

    posted by Sydney on 3/26/2006 08:43:00 AM 1 comments


    An ancient curse, mentioned in the Bible (Exodus).

    By Anonymous Bruce Small, at 8:03 PM  

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