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Volume 22, Number 8—August 2016
Etymologia

Etymologia: Dracunculus medinensis

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Dracunculus medinensis [drə-kungʹku-ləs med-in-enʹsis]

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Thumbnail of This 2004 photograph depicted the entrance to a Nigerian Guinea worm containment center. The sign at the entrance displayed a drawing of a Guinea worm sufferer. Photo by E. Staub, CDC/Carter Center.

Figure. This 2004 photograph depicted the entrance to a Nigerian Guinea worm containment center. The sign at the entrance displayed a drawing of a Guinea worm sufferer. Photo by E. Staub, CDC/Carter...

Also known as Guinea worm (Figure) for its high prevalence along the Gulf of Guinea, Dracunculus medinensis (“little dragon from Medina”) is a parasitic nematode that infects humans and domestic animals through contaminated water. D. medinensis was described in Egypt as early as the 15th century bce and may have been the “fiery serpent” of the Israelites described in the Bible.

Guinea worm disease was once a substantial cause of illness in tropical and subtropical Africa and Asia, but cases declined as water sanitation improved in the 19th century. In 1986, the World Health Organization resolved to eradicate the parasite, and in 2015, there were only 22 cases in 4 countries (Chad, Ethiopia, Mali, and South Sudan).

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References

  1. Biswas  G, Sankara  DP, Agua-Agum  J, Maiga  A. Dracunculiasis (Guinea worm disease): eradication without a drug or vaccine. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2013;368:20120146. DOIPubMed
  2. Guinea worm disease nears eradication. Lancet Infect Dis. 2016;16:131. DOIPubMed
  3. World Health Organization. Dracunculiasis: historical background. August 5, 2014 [cited 20 Jun 2016]. http://www.who.int/dracunculiasis/background/en/.

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Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid2208.et2208

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Table of Contents – Volume 22, Number 8—August 2016

Page created: July 15, 2016
Page updated: July 15, 2016
Page reviewed: July 15, 2016
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.
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