The Worldwide Total of Guinea Worm Disease Cases Reaches Lowest in History

The Carter Center announces that just 14 cases of Guinea worm disease occurred worldwide in 2021--the lowest case total ever recorded.

With only 14 cases recorded worldwide in 2021, Guinea worm disease is closer than ever to eradication. This is a 48% decline from the 27 total cases in 2020.

The disease incapacitates infected individuals for weeks, or even months. The pain inhibits individuals' ability to do even necessary tasks like caring for themselves, participating in work, growing food for their families or attending school.

Generally, it's contracted by consuming water contaminated with copepods, or tiny crustaceans that eat Guinea worm (Dracunculus medinensis) larvae. A painful blister forms on the skin after about a year. From that blister, a pregnant female worm will slowly escape.

Unfortunately, because of the pain and suffering that occurs, the individual oftens seeks comfort by placing the affected area in water, which stimulates the worm to release its larvae--promoting the cycle to begin all over again.

World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day

In honor of the third annual World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day, this January 30, 2022, The Carter Center highlighted its commitment to help end neglected tropical diseases (NTD).

"From the Colosseum in Rome to the Tokyo Tower to the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, the world will come together to support putting an end to these debilitating and preventable diseases," The Carter Center wrote in a statement.

The Center has joined over 100 sites across more than 30 nations in observance of World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day, representing 20 little-known diseases that affect 1.7 billion people.

Sites including the Great Wall, the Colosseum, and The Carter Center will glow orange and puple for the day Sunday.

Awareness into Action

The news of the decrease in Guinea worm cases was shared by The Carter Center on January 26, 2022, during a World Health Organization-hosted webinar to celebrate the first anniversary of the 2030 Negected Tropical Disease Road Map.

The Carter Center, founded by former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter in 1982 took leadership of the global Guinea Worm Eradication Program in 1986.

At that time, there were 3.5 million human cases of Guinea worm disease occurring annually across 21 countries n Africa and Asia. The eradication program has made much progress since then with so little cases appearing in only 4 countries.

“Rosalynn and I are encouraged by the continued commitment and persistence of our partners and the citizens in the villages to eradicate Guinea worm,” Jimmy Carter said in a statement. “Because of their persistence, this dreadful disease will be eradicated. Today we are closer than ever, and I am excited at the prospect of seeing the job finished.”