South Sudan Announces Halt of Guinea Worm Disease Transmission

In this Oct. 4, 2017, photo, a South Sudanese woman points to two scars on her leg where two Guinea worms emerged. South Sudan’s health ministry announced this week Guinea worm disease has stopped transmitted in the country. (Mariah Quesada, File/Associated Press/

In a press conference at The Carter Center in Atlanta, South Sudan’s minister of health announced the interruption of guinea worm disease transmission in the country. Guinea worm disease, also called Drancunculiasis, is characterized by painful blisters that eventually erupt with guinea worms. Guinea worm disease is considered a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD). South Sudan has not recorded any cases of guinea worm disease for 15 consecutive months. A guinea worm life cycle is approximately a year, so officials believe the 15 month time span indicates the disease is not being transmitted.

South Sudan reported no guinea worm cases for all of 2017. In 2006, there were 20,586 cases reported in the region. In addition to efforts underway before South Sudan became formally separated from Sudan in 2011, officials also credit sustained political support and massive volunteer efforts for successfully addressing guinea worm disease. The Carter Center, with partners including PQMD member Johnson & Johnson, worked in 2001 to distribute more than 9 million pipe filters, one for every at risk person in the area. Pipe filters ensured drinking water was free from tiny water fleas carrying Guinea worm larvae.

South Sudan expects the World Health Organization to officially certify the country as guinea worm disease-free soon.

Read more about the announcement and the history of South Sudan and its work on guinea worm disease here.