53 Cases of Guinea Worm Reported in 2019

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A provisional total of 53 cases of Guinea worm disease were reported in 2019, The Carter Center announced Wednesday. Intensified surveillance and reporting incentives in endemic areas in recent years have produced expected fluctuations in the small number of Guinea worm cases. When The Carter Center assumed leadership of the program in 1986, about 3.5 million human cases occurred annually in 21 countries in Africa and Asia. The campaign against the disease, also called dracunculiasis, has taken on additional complexity in recent years with the rise of infections in animals, primarily dogs in Chad. The world’s foremost experts and partner governments are responding vigorously. “The time to eradicate Guinea worm is now,” said Adam Weiss, director of the Carter Center Guinea Worm Eradication Program. “To prevent unnecessary suffering, the remaining endemic countries are going
all out with every intervention available.” For example, in Chad, the national program
intensified surveillance and broadly promoted cash incentives for reporting suspected infections. As a result, in 2019, rumors of human cases rose 137% and rumors of animal infections rose 268% compared to 2018. The program investigated 95% of those rumors within 24 hours. Additionally, the larvicide Abate was applied to water sources in 408 villages
in 2019, compared to 72 villages the previous year. During 2019, 47 human cases of the disease were reported in Chad, four in South Sudan, one in Angola, and one in Cameroon that is believed to have been imported from Chad. No human cases have been reported for two years in Ethiopia or four years in Mali, but the two countries are still considered endemic. As for Guinea worm infections in animals (mainly dogs but also a handful of cats and baboons), 1,973 were detected in Chad, nine in Mali, eight in Ethiopia, and one in Angola; none in South Sudan or Cameroon. (All 2019 figures are provisional until officially confirmed in March 2020. Further details can be found in the latest issue of Guinea Worm Wrap-Up.)