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County intensifies hunt for “last case” of GuineaWorm Disease 

A sample picture of Health personnel removing guinea worm disease from  a patient in earlier days

Narok County health personnel have intensified hunt for the last case of suspected case of Guinea Worm Disease (GWD).

Narok County Health Surveillance Mr. Edward Tankoi said the Ministry of health personnel have been going around the county to find out any case of guinea worm still lurking in
the area.
To this end, he urged the residents of Narok to look out for persons who may be infected with the disease and said the Ministry had promised a reward of Sh. 100,000 to anyone who reports a case of guinea worm disease.
Tankoi told a meeting in Narok that the guinea worm known medically as dracunculus medinens disease is an infection by the guinea worm caused by drinking or bathing in stagnant water sources contaminated with guinea worm larvae which are also found infleas.
Initially, there are no symptoms but about one year later, the person develops a painful burning sensation as the female worm forms ablister in the skin, usually on the lower limb.
During this stage of infection, the patient experiences difficulty in walking. Tankoi however said that it is very uncommon for the disease to cause death. The worm grows up to 800 milimiterslong.
The disease is diagnosed by seeing the worms emerging from the lesions on the legs of infected individuals and by microscopic examinations of the larvae.
Other symptoms include fever, nausea and vomiting. The disease has no vaccine or treatment but the worm is physically extracted by medical personnel who pull and wrap the live worm around a piece of gauze or a stick.
Tankoi said awareness campaigns have been launched to educate both the public and the health personnel. He appealed to Narok county residents who come across a suspicious case similar to those of guinea worm disease to report to the health authorities immediately.
Kenya is fighting to be declared free of thedisease by World Health Organization hence the campaigns have been mounted in several counties in the country. The Ministry of Health has to this end mounted a campaign to rid the country of what is dubbed “the last case
of guinea worm” so that it’s certified free from the worm by WorldHealth Organization (WHO).
The last case of guinea worm disease to be reported in thecountry was in 1984 in Turkana county and it is suspected to have come from neighbouring country of Sudan but health personnel are on high alert to prevent the disease form recurring.
Counties which are dry and prone to flooding and stagnant water are susceptible to this disease and that is why Narok among the target counties.
A suspected case of Guinea Worm Disease (GWD) reported inNarok early this month tested negative.

By Mabel Keya-Shikuku

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