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Saturday, March 24, 2018

DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU'RE SQUEAMISH ABOUT WORMS

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser yesterday had two pages of cockroaches and an article about a dreaded Sudanese worm.  I'm afraid I show signs of having Katsaridaphobia, which is a fear of cockroaches.  I thus will not even go there.

However, if you wish, click on THIS (with one large colorful cockroach photo) and THIS (three cockroach photos).  I do have two fearsome cockroach stories.  

Click on THIS to read about my previous home where I must have caught a thousand large/flying cockroaches using Hoy Hoy Trap a Roach.  The second, I was having dinner with two Civil Engineering Department colleagues, and a rather gigantic roach flew straight into the forehead of one of them, and dropped right in from of him, unconscious.  Could have been worse, for it could have gotten trapped in his hair or inside his shirt.

But about that dreaded South Sudan wriggly, also known as a Guinea Worm, or, scientically, Dracunculiasis mendinensis...no kidding.  While eradication efforts have been successful, this disease is endemic in nine African countries, where in 2006 there were 20,500 cases in 3,000 villages.  But in 1986 there were 3.5 million cases.  Have you been in Africa during the past year?  Read the details (you won't believe this):
  • you become infected after drinking water containing water fleas infected with the female guinea worm larvae
  • no initial symptoms
  • both male and female need to be in the drink
    • a stage 3 larvae then penetrates the host's stomach or intestinal wall, enters the abdominal cavity
    • after three months of maturation, if one finds the other, mating takes place and the male dies in the retroperitoneal space
  • the pain could begin when the worm begins migration, but in a year you should show symptoms of vomiting and dizziness
  • walking and working will become difficult
  • death is uncommon
  • however, there will come a painful blister, usually on a lower limb (hopefully your legs), through which, over the course of a few weeks, this worm emerges, and could be a yard long
  • there is no medication or vaccine
  • how you remove this worm is to slowly over a few weeks roll it over a stick, a method described in the Egyptian medical Ebers Papyrus, dating from 1550 BC
  • or use this string and pencil technique
  • ulcers formed by the emerging worm could get infected
  • the pain may continue for months after the worm is removed
  • if the worm dies inside your body, this can led to arthritis or paralysis of the spinal cord
You think you have a squeamishful painful ailment?  This photo of Rejina Bodi from South Sudan was taken last year, but she recalls that in 2009, it took seven month to pull more than 10 worms out of her, including three from one of her toes.


Alas, South Sudan has gone 15 months without a single reported case of Guinea Worm disease.  Maybe this worm has been eradicated and it is safe again for you to visit this part of Africa.  

How safe is it where you live?  While the Ebola Virus Disease was in the Congo, South Sudan was also affected.  Ebola will return.

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