Guinea Worm Disease: Jimmy Carter To Thank For Almost Totally Eradicating Flesh-Eating Disease

A horrible flesh-eating disease known as Guinea Worm Disease has no cure, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be something that is eliminated. The disease is one that many scientists have studied, but still can’t find a cure for it, yet it needs to be treated. In 2015, there were a mere 22 cases of Guinea Worm Disease found throughout the entire world and President Jimmy Carter is to thank for that.

In 1989, there were 892,926 cases of Guinea Worm Disease reported worldwide. In 2005, that number was down to just 10,674 cases. By the time 2014 rolled around, there were just 126 infections of the disease around the world. Now, 2015 has brought just 22 cases, which is an 83 percent drop from the year before, according to VOX.

Overall, the Carter Center has helped almost totally eradicate Guinea Worm Disease around the world. The 22 reported cases in 2015 are a 99.99 percent reduction from the amount that were reported in 1986 for an incredible change in just 30 years.

The 22 cases in 2015 were found in just four countries- Mali, Ethiopia, Chad, and South Sudan.

guinea worm disease 2015 cases
[Photo by Time Life Pictures/Center For Disease Control/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images]
Daily Kos reports that Guinea Worm Disease or Dracunculiasis is a neglected tropical disease that is contracted when people consume water that has been contaminated with Guinea worm larvae. After a period of a year, those that are infected with the disease will see a meter-long worm slowly start to come out of a painful blister somewhere on their skin.

The parasitic disease can actually make people bed-ridden and incapacitate them for months at a time where they are unable to do anything.

The Carter Center is helping get rid of the disease without any type of medical treatment or a vaccine of any kind. This is being done with interventions in the community that educate people on how to avoid Guinea Worm Disease and what they need to do to avoid it.

Filtering drinking water and keeping their fresh water away from contamination are two of the biggest lessons taught. Craig Withers, the acting vice president of the Carter Center Health Programs, is proud of the response they’ve gotten.

“Tens of thousands of community-based health workers have shown daily acts of courage to improve the lives of their families and neighbors over three decades, often under very dangerous circumstances. Because of them, the end is in sight.”

If it does end up being gotten rid of completely, Guinea Worm Disease will be the first parasitic disease to be eradicated. It will also go down in history as the first disease to be eradicated without the use of any kind of curative treatment or vaccine.

Jimmy Carter guinea worm disease eradication
[Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images]
Jimmy Carter and the Carter Center are working to continually educate as many people as possible and work with communities so the disease can be stricken from humanity.

With just 22 cases in 2015, that is something to be proud of, but the job is not done. Eliminating those last few cases is what will be the most difficult and the most expensive, but the Carter Center is intent on continuing until the disease is no more.

The hope and prayer is that with even more hard work, Guinea Worm Disease will be a thing of the past and a worry no more.

Jimmy Carter is 91-years-old and founded the Carter Center with his now 88-year-old wife, Rosalynn Carter. The foundation has done amazing work with Guinea Worm Disease in attempting to eradicate it from existence, and will continue moving forward to keep others aware of its dangers far past 2015.

[Image by Chris Rank/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

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