This photograph depicts a young Ghanaian woman holding a pipe filter that she wears draped on a cord about her neck. Pipe filters are individual filtration devices, similar to a straw, which allow people to filter their water to avoid contracting Guinea worm disease (GWD) while traveling or working in the field. Persons become infected by drinking water containing copepods (water fleas) harboring the infective stage larvae of Dracunculus medinensis. Once inside the body, the stomach acid digests the water flea, but not the larvae, which find their way to the small intestine, where they penetrate the wall of the intestine and pass into the body cavity. During the next 10 - 14 months, the Guinea worms mature to a full size adult 60 - 100cm (2 - 3ft) long, and as wide as a cooked spaghetti noodle. Adult worms mate inside the abdomen. After which, the male dies and the female worm migrates to the site where she will emerge, usually from lower limbs.
CDC/ The Carter Center
November 18, 2012
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