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Second Human Disease in History About to be Eradicated

Only 13 human cases of Guinea worm disease were reported worldwide in 2022, pushing the disease tantalisingly close to being eradicated, The Carter Center has announced.


The provisional figure is the lowest annual case total ever reported. When The Carter Center assumed leadership of the global Guinea Worm Eradication Program in 1986, about 3.5 million human cases occurred annually in 21 countries in Africa and Asia.


The record low case count delighted former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who co-founded The Carter Center in 1982 with his wife, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.


“Rosalynn and I are pleased with this continued advance toward eradicating Guinea worm disease,” President Carter said. “Our partners, especially those in the affected villages, work with us daily to rid the world of this scourge. We are heartened that eradication can be achieved soon.”


Graph depicting the yearly drop in Guinea worm infections since 1986

The 13 cases in 2022 mark a 13 percent decline from 2021, when 15 cases were reported. (All figures are provisional until officially confirmed, typically in March.)


Guinea worm is poised to become the second human disease in history to be eradicated, following smallpox, and the first without a medicine or vaccine. Community-based and innovative behavior change and local mobilization are the key drivers of success.


“Committed communities are the key ingredient to making this program work,” said Dr. Kashef Ijaz, vice president of Carter Center health programs. “There is no medicine or vaccine for Guinea worm, so success depends on people in every household taking diligent care to filter their water and do the other things needed to prevent infection.”

 

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