Dracunculus medinensis-The Guinea Worm  BIO 203

D. medinensis larvae


Map of location of D. medinensis in Africa                  Max Blaxter (The Blaxter Lab)                          Cyclops  


Dracunculus medinensis (Linnaeus 1758) is an obligate parasite found mostly in the African region spreading to areas as far as eastern India (Wijová, Moravec, Horák, Modrý and Lukeš 2005). These parasites are specialized as they receive their nutrients necessary for life from their hosts and therefore cannot survive without having spent at least part of their life cycle within a host. D. medinensis (also known as the Guinea Worm) infects cyclops (water fleas) found in pond water. Once ingested, the cyclops dies in the stomach of the host and the parasite larvae is released into the subcutaneous tissues of the digestive walls (Cairncross, Tayeh, and Korkor 2012). More information on this process can be found on the Reproduction page. Dracunculus medinensis infects mainly humans, but has also been reported in other mammalian and reptilian species (Wijová, Moravec, Horák, Modrý and Lukeš 2005; Muller 1971). When D. medinensis infects a human, it is known as Guinea Worm Disease. D. medinensis only infects animals, including humans, because it is specialized as a roundworm (nematode) to live within the intestine of the digestive system. For more information on nematodes please visit the Classification page. To learn more about parasitic worms that utilize humans as their habitat please visit Trichinella spiralis. To learn more about parasitic diseases in the African region please visit Malaria. To learn more about other animals living in the African-Asian region please visit these pages on the Honey Badger and Camel.

President Carter Comforting a Guinea Worm Disease Patient                        President Carter asking the children who has had this disease


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