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Guinea Worm Disease


Prelims: Science & Tech. (Diseases), Guinea Worm Diseases, Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD).

Mains: General Studies-III  Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.

Why in the News ?

Nations like South Sudan and Mali, where Guinea worm disease was once more common, have made commendable progress, although the fight continues in Chad and the Central African Republic.

Source: TH


  • Guinea Worm Disease

    • It is an infectious ‘Neglected tropical disease’ (NTD).
    • Agent Parasite:  “Dracunculus Medinensis” which is a fiery serpent.
    • Contagious: It is basically a human disease. However, it can also spread to animals and humans by eating certain aquatic animals that might carry Guinea worm larvae, like fish or frogs. Transmission Drinking water containing Guinea worm larvae
    • Affected regions: It affects poor communities in remote parts of Africa that do not have safe water to drink.
    • Symptoms: 
      • The disease usually has no initial symptoms.
      • However, after 1 year of disease, there may be a painful burning feeling as a blister forms, usually on the legs. The blister bursts as the worm then comes out of the skin over a few weeks.
    • Prevention: It can be prevented by filtering drinking water through a piece of fine-mesh cloth, chlorination, or boiling.
    • Treatment: 
      • There is no drug & vaccine to prevent Guinea worm infection.
      • Anti-inflammatory medicine can help reduce pain and swelling.
      • Antibiotic ointment can help prevent infections.
    • Current status of disease: 
      • India eliminated GWD in the 1990s,
      • India received GWD-free certification from the WHO in 2000.
  • Neglected Tropical Diseases

    • They are diseases which occur in the tropics, usually in the low middle income countries settings.
    • They comprise a group of 20 conditions mainly prevalent in tropical areas — caused by various pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and toxins. For Ex-Leprosy, Trachoma etc.
    • NTDs can cause permanent disabilities, impact mental and emotional health. NTDs affect over 1.7 billion people across the world. 
      • For instance, Lymphatic Filariasis which is known as haathipaon in hindi or Elephant Feet is the second-leading cause of permanent disability in the world.
    • It attacks the human lymphatic system and can cause painful swelling of limbs (lymphoedema), genitalia (hydrocele) and disfigurement of breast.
    • Government has set a target of 100 per cent elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis and Kala-Azar in line with global targets.


Prelims: PYQ/FAQ

Q. Consider the following statements: (2017)

  1. In tropical regions, Zika virus disease is transmitted by the same mosquito that transmits dengue.
  2. Sexual transmission of Zika virus disease is possible.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: (c)


  • Zika virus is a flavivirus which was first discovered in 1947 in monkeys and then in humans in Uganda in 1952.
  • Both Zika and Dengue have similarities in terms of symptoms of fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. In addition to this, the mode of transmission is also same for both the diseases, i.e., both are spread by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus species of mosquitoes. 
  • Modes of Zika Transmission
    • Mosquito bites
    • From mother to child during pregnancy, which can cause microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. Zika virus has also been found in breast milk.
    • Sexual transmission from infected partner. 
    • Through blood transfusion.

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