Nearing Eradication, Parasitic Guinea Worm Jumps Species to Dogs | HowStuffWorks NOW


Former President Jimmy Carter has vowed to
see the last Guinea Worm die before he does — and with the parasite eradicated from all
but four countries, he’s close. But now the enemy has found a new place to
hide. The Guinea Worm Dracunculus medinensis is
a horrific human parasite. Its larvae infect tiny fresh-water copepods
which then enter the human digestive system through unfiltered drinking water. The larvae then tunnel their way through the
host’s stomach and intestinal walls, where they mature and turn the human abdominal cavity
into their own kinky sex cave. The males die in there, but each two-foot-long,
fertilized female migrates to the host’s skin — generally somewhere on the lower body
— and causes an excruciating blister to form. When the host attempts to relieve the blister
with immersion in water, the female seems to sense the temperature change, bursts out
of the blister and excretes her foul larvae to begin the cycle anew. The entire human portion of the cycle takes
about a year, and that’s when a plague of other symptoms pop up in the human host: fever,
itching, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dizziness. Secondary bacterial infections commonly result
in painful disability that can disrupt the individual’s ability to work, attend school
or care for family members. This disability period typically lasts 8.5
weeks, according to the CDC, but it can sometimes prove permanent. That’s why the Carter Foundation has waged
a war of extermination on the Guinea worm, cutting known infections down by 99.99 percent,
from 3.5 million cases in 1986 to just seven cases so far in 2016. But with victory so close at hand, this inhuman
adversary has found a new place to hide. Just as the alien in John Carpenter’s “The
Thing” took the form of a dog to outwit its human hunters, so too has the Guinea Worm
jumped to man’s best friend. As reported on NPR, dogs in Chad began experiencing
Guinea Worm infections three years ago — sometimes harboring as many 62 worms-per-host. Researchers aren’t sure exactly how the
jump occurred, or how the cornered parasites are reaching their new host species, but 600
dog infections popped up in Chad this year alone. Part of the problem is that dog ownership
in Chad, as with much of the world, isn’t quite like it is in the United States. The animals generally enjoy semi-feral free reign, but
they need to be tied up for a solid two-week block if the worms are to safely leave their
body and die on dry land. So the Carter Center is currently providing
collars and chains, and they’re paying individuals to tie up their dogs in an attempt to corner
the guinea worm and push the organism ever closer to the tipping point of total eradication. If you want to learn more about the Carter
Center’s guinea worm program, visit CarterCenter.org — and if you crave more weird, parasitic
science, be sure to visit NOW.Howstuffworks.com each and every day.

4 Replies to “Nearing Eradication, Parasitic Guinea Worm Jumps Species to Dogs | HowStuffWorks NOW”

  1. boil the water before you use it simple. even if it's for you livestock. cleanliness is godliness after all. it increases meat production for consumption. your pets need to be clean just like the animals your going to consume. only a idiot eats wild meat without cooking the shit out of it first. if I personally make a wild game strew I cook it 2 days constantly. I point blank refuse dry cured meat for this very reason why risk it when I can cook it and kill the parodies?

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