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Home > About US > Magazine > Worms of Woe

Worms of Woe

World Vision Magazine, Summer 2007

By James Addis

In Ghana, Guinea-worms prevents children from attending school.
[(c) April 2006/Jon Warren/World Vision]

Of all the diseases associated with drinking dirty water, few are more horrid than Guinea worm. Although the menace has been eliminated from most countries of the world, it still lingers in communities in West Africa. Villagers — including many children —unwittingly ingest the microscopic larvae when they drink water from a stagnant pond.
The parasite lives inside the body for a year, growing into a spaghetti-like worm. When the worm escapes by puncturing the skin from the inside, the pain is excruciating.

Victims must endure the worm’s emergence for up to three months. They are usually incapacitated by fever and nausea.
To speed things along, people carefully wind the worm around a stick as it emerges, being careful not to pull too hard. If the worm breaks, it will retract into the body, causing severe inflammation. Most sites where worms emerge get infected, and the worst cases result in permanent crippling or death.

James Addis is the senior editor of World Vision magazine. .
Jon Warren is the photo director for World Vision and photo editor for World Vision magazine.

Learn More

>> Read Women Mean Business, the story of a soap-making venture.

>> World Vision's water chief is motivated by personal experience. Read Nothing Dry About this Academic.

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>> Pray for the more than 1 billion people who suffer because of lack of access to clean water; pray especially for the safety and protection of children younger than 5 who are most vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

>> Make a donation. $50 helps provide safe, clean, disease-free water, for families and children.

The feature above was published in
World Vision MagazineSummer 2007 [pdf].

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