|Description:||This image depicts a Ghanaian boy and girl being taught to avoid contracting Guinea worm disease (GWD), or Dracunculiasis, by a volunteer. The instructor uses illustrations drawn on cloth depicting Guinea worm disease, its symptoms, and the methods one must practice in order to avoid infection. The drawing in this image shows two people discussing what the infected man must do to treat his Guinea worm infection, as they stand on the banks of a contaminated pond.|
Symptoms of GWD usually do not appear until about one year after infection. A few days, to just hours before the worm emerges, the person may develop a fever, swelling, and pain in the area. Often worms appear on the legs and feet, but may occur anywhere on the body. Almost invariably the skin lesions caused by the worm develop secondary bacterial infections, increasing the pain, and extending the period of incapacitation to months, which can cause disabling complications, such as locked joints and even permanent crippling.
Each time a worm emerges, persons may be unable to work or resume daily activities for months. The emergence of the worm usually occurs during planting or harvesting season, causing people to suffer crop losses when they cannot tend to their fields. Parents who have active Guinea worm disease may not be able to care for their children. People suffer food shortages when they are unable to work. For example, southeastern Nigerian rice farmers lost $20 million USD in one year because of outbreaks of Guinea worm disease.