Dracunculiasis – Ghana

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1 suspected case of Guinea worm disease or dracunculiasis is reported in Agorkpoe Eloekope Community, North Tongu District, Volta Region in Ghana on May 31, 2021.

The patient is a 54 year old man and first noticed a blister on his right foot that burst on May 1 with a whitish worm emerging from the wound.

Infection can occur by drinking unfiltered water contaminated with copepods.

This is the first suspected case in the region in two decades.

Photo: Dracunculus medinensis larvae

Dracunculiasis, also called Guinea-worm disease is a parasitic infection by the Guinea worm. A person becomes infected when they drink water that contains water fleas infected with guinea worm larvae. Initially there are no symptoms. About one year later, the female worm forms a painful blister in the skin, usually on a lower limb. The worm then emerges from the skin over the course of a few weeks. The worm may be slowly removed over a few weeks by rolling it over a stick.

The worm is about one to two millimeters wide, and an adult female is 60 to 100 centimeters long. Males are much shorter at 12 to 29 mm.

It is very uncommon for the disease to cause death.

Prevention is by ensuring access to clean water. Filtering water through a cloth is often enough to remove the water fleas.

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