February 18th, 2011
05:33 PM ET

2 more countries eliminate Guinea worm

A debilitating disease that has plagued mankind since ancient times lingers only in three countries now.  If completely eradicated, the Guinea worm disease would become only the second disease wiped out by mankind.

The Guinea worm lives in stagnant water.  When the villagers drink the contaminated water, the worm grows inside its human host for a year until it emerges through the skin, causing great pain.  It is not lethal, but paralyzing for many.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the Carter Center have led public health efforts tackling neglected diseases most Americans have never heard of.  On Thursday, Carter congratulated Niger and Nigeria for becoming the most recent countries to eliminate the Guinea worm.

When a collaborative effort solves a community problem, that success can set the framework for the future, Carter said.

“We underestimate the capability of people to improve their own lives,” he said.

The ways to get rid of Guinea worm are to filter the water or find clean water alternatives.

Guinea worm remains in Mali, Ethiopia and Southern Sudan, which contain 94 percent of the total cases.  In Sudan, a war is waged to eradicate the 'fiery serpent'

Niger had about 33,000 cases in 1991, and now has none.  In 1988, Nigeria had the most case with 650,000 cases.  Twenty years later, Nigeria reported its last case.

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Jam

    Well thats uplifting could have posted more than a blurb of an article.

    February 18, 2011 at 18:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cody

      Check out what a friend of mine is doing over there to help in Ghana-
      Google Wells For Ghana if the link doesn't work
      He is drilling water wells to help these people. Very awesome.

      February 19, 2011 at 16:32 | Report abuse |
    • str8whtguy

      I was in Atlanta on business a couple of weeks ago, and toured the Carter Center out of curiosity. What a great American! I left feeling like I should also be doing more to help humanity.

      February 20, 2011 at 16:19 | Report abuse |
  2. Angie

    That is a wonderful story. Jimmy Carter for President! I appreciated his book 'Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid' and am glad for all his public service to our country. I wish more of us would walk-the-walk.

    February 18, 2011 at 20:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeff

      He makes a much better humanitarian then president. He should move to Africa...

      February 20, 2011 at 15:29 | Report abuse |
    • str8whtguy

      When Carter left office, his VP made a quote that still sticks in my mind: "We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace." What other administration before or since, with the possible exception of Washington, can say that?

      February 20, 2011 at 16:25 | Report abuse |
  3. Ms.Tommy Mans

    It is really sad that the system of communication is truly hindered while our leaders hold office. I am thankful for those who can still afford to go out into places and truly share the real intent of the heart that America is really about at the heart of those who are the changers. We are a country of immigrants. We all came from somewhere. I am not saying allow a source to be over run. Every system has a carrying capacity. The more we share the more people will work together. That is how we build bridges. I am glad for Jimmy Carter, William Clinton, Al Gore and those who follow. Our Earth is at a brink and needs us all, not just a select few with the keys to the kingdom. We need to realize that we need to leave fossil fuels alone and build self sufficient systems to make a new day for our children and grandchildren. We are killing our earth in our quest for the almighty dollar and oil will not be in our reach forever. It will never be a perfect time but are we already too late?

    February 18, 2011 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • fjs21187

      This has nothing to do with oil or changing the environment or any crazy global warming crap. It's actually talking about wiping a living creature (albeit a very hurtful one) from the face of the earth. Somehow you manage to completely change the point of an article into something that fits your agenda, which makes it sound crazy.

      February 22, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
  4. Ben

    Can we give Jimmy Carter a second Nobel Peace Prize? He's been more successful as a statesman out of office than he was in office.

    What's W up to now, and why isn't he out eradicating diseases around the world? Oh yeah, everyone else in the world hates him. Oops.

    February 19, 2011 at 00:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • U.R. JokingOfCourse

      ROFLMFAO. How gullible art thou? It'd make more sense to paste another award on Al Gore's fat behind. After all, he invented the internet.

      February 19, 2011 at 03:49 | Report abuse |
  5. Jaime

    Congrats to Jimmy Carter. Now the final push. Im holding my breath to see which disease will be the next disease to be eradicated from the face of the earth guinea worm, polio or even measles. Mealses eradication has made tremendous strides in the last 5-10 years. Good Luck President Carter when you are finally done with this most Americans will say guinea worm what? The final inch is here.

    February 19, 2011 at 08:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Kimberley

    I would like to recognize those individuals who actually helped to eradicate rinderpest. Although it is not a human disease, the eradication of rinderpest virus was an important public health effort as the virus caused the death of livestock such as cattle, a vital food source. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/16/science/16pest.html
    The elimination of guinea worm would therefore be the 3rd disease eliminated by humans.

    February 19, 2011 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. charles s

    Jimmy Carter is a good, decent human being. He has certainly tried to do good during his life. I hope that this effort succeeds too. George Bush tried to make a difference on AIDs in Africa. I sure hope that the funding for it is not cut due to our economic trouble.

    February 19, 2011 at 22:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. larams

    The reason not everyone walks the walk like Jimmy Carter is because the rest of us have to earn a living. We have not had the luxury of free money and basically being in retirement mode our entire lives.

    February 20, 2011 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Yahweh

      So what is George Bush's excuse then? He was in retirement mode as president.

      February 20, 2011 at 16:07 | Report abuse |
  9. MannyHM

    Thank you President Carter. You are what makes me proud to be an American.

    February 20, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. debbie

    Jimmy Carter is a wonderful example of a man who has operated with integrity and principle continuing to make a positive impact on precious folks in Africa and elsewhere who need help so desperately!

    February 20, 2011 at 19:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. peleka lumAva

    Its always encouraging and enlightening as well inspiring to read stories about people helping people. Jimmy Carter should get the Nobel Peace Prize. I nominate him as CNN hero.

    February 21, 2011 at 06:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. peleka p. lumAava

    Jimmy Carter is a great and wonderful human being. He is a great American.

    February 21, 2011 at 06:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. mjgranvi

    President Carter is one of the finest humanitarians on the planet earth and my all-time favorite President.

    February 21, 2011 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. jussie

    hi how are u

    February 21, 2011 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
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    days. I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!

    October 12, 2014 at 00:29 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.