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The African Guinea Worm Redefines Parasitic Infection

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HolisticSurvival.comSometimes here in the good old United States of America we forget that there truly are some horrific types of parasitic nasties living in other parts of the world – say Africa. In our arrogance, we consider ourselves to be a clean nation, a cut above the Third World conditions that spawn such horrible scenarios as wrought by the Guinea worm. You may wonder how it came to be that our crack staff was ruminating upon the Guinea worm and, furthermore, why we would choose to include it in a Holistic Survival article?

The answer to the first question is we recently read the Randy Wayne White book, Dead of Night, which hypothesized the possibility of exotic biological infestations in the swamps and lakes just south of Disney. Needless to say, a Guinea worm infection at the Kingdom of the Mouse would be the Chamber of Commerce’s worst nightmare. But why waste valuable blog space on the topic? In short, because Americans are by and large soft, fat, sassy critters insulated from the squalid conditions that a majority of the world lives under.

And don’t mistake this for an environmental, tree-hugger, save-the-Africans, Bono-lite sort of crusade. This is the hard truth that our thin layer of civilization isn’t bulletproof protection from any biological threat walking the earth. The Guinea worm seems like a perfect tool for the low tech terrorist.

What does the thing even do?

Humans unwittingly ingest the worm when they drink standing water containing a certain tiny water flea that is itself infected with the larvae of the even smaller Guinea worm. Over the course of a year, the worm grows inside its host, sometimes as large as three feet, at which point it literally bores through intestines and anything else in the way to get to the surface of the skin, where it exits in painful fashion through a blister, usually in a lower limb. As one might expect, this is nasty squared. Victims often go into the water to cool their fever. The worm senses water and makes a final charge to exit the body, leaving behind a gaping, infected wound. In the water, the worm spawns millions of new worms to be consumed by water fleas and the cycle begins again.

The chilling part is you have this worm growing inside your for a solid year and don’t even know it. Symptoms don’t appear until a few days or hours before it begins its grand exit. And you were worried about the water in Mexico…

The Holistic Survival Team


Flickr / chego101


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