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Jul 11, 2019

One of the more gruesome parasitic infections is that of the guinea worm: these 3 feet long worms typically emerge from painful boils in the feet to release eggs, and have to be slowly wound onto a stick over the course of days to weeks to pull them them out of the infected person’s leg.

This debilitating infection afflicted 3.5 million people per year in 1986, when the Carter Center (founded by President Jimmy Carter) took the lead in the effort to eradicate guinea worm disease. Through concentrated effort, this disease is now on the brink of extinction with only a handful of cases in a couple of countries.

Adam Weiss, MPH, is the director of the Guinea Worm Eradication Program at the Carter Center. Weiss talks about how debilitating guinea worm disease is for infected people, how the worms seem to evade immunity, how the guinea worm has been eradicated without vaccines or drugs but rather behavior modification, how seeing the disease first-hand led to President Carter’s and Weiss’ passion for eradication, how dogs have recently been found to act as a reservoir, and how being in the Peace Corps led him on his life path.

The microCase for listeners to solve is about Brad and Janet, a newly engaged couple who both come down with a disease during planning for their polar bear-themed wedding.

Karl Klose, Ph.D. (UTSA)
Adam Weiss, M.P.H. (Carter Center)
Janakiram Seshu, Ph.D. (UTSA)
Mylea Echazarreta (UTSA)