|Description:||This image depicts the subcutaneous emergence of a female Guinea worm, Dracunculus medinensis, from the dorsum of a sufferer’s left foot at the proximal surface of the second toe. The white, spaghetti-like worm is slowly being pulled from the wound. Before the worm emerges, a blister develops on the skin. This blister causes a very painful burning sensation and eventually (within 24 - 72 hours) ruptures. Once the worm emerges from the wound, it can only be pulled out a few centimeters each day, and wrapped around a small stick or piece of gauze. Sometimes a worm can be pulled out completely within a few days, but this process often takes weeks.|
After a 1yr-long incubation period, the adult female Dracunculus worms emerge from the skin of an infected person, who then may enter sources of drinking water, unwittingly allowing the worm to release larvae into the water. These larvae are ingested by fresh water copepods (water fleas), where they develop into the infective stage in 10 - 14 days. People become infected by drinking water containing the water fleas harboring the infective-stage larvae. Inside the stomach, acid digests the water fleas, but not the Guinea worm larvae, which migrate to the small intestine, penetrating the wall of the intestine and passing into the body cavity. During the next 10 -14mo, the Guinea worms mature to a full size adult 60 - 100cm (2 -3ft) long, and as wide as a cooked spaghetti noodle. Sixty to ninety days after infection, male and female adult worms mate inside the abdomen, whereupon, the male dies. The female worm migrates to the site where she will emerge, usually the lower limbs.