Dracunculiasis is infection with Dracunculus medinensis, a nematode worm. It is caused by drinking water containing water fleas (Cyclops species) that have ingested Dracunculus larvae.
In the human body, the larvae are released and migrate through the intestinal wall into body tissues, where they develop into adult worms. The female worms move through the person’s subcutaneous tissue, causing intense pain, and eventually emerge through the skin, usually at the feet, producing oedema, a blister and eventually an ulcer, accompanied by fever, nausea, and vomiting. If they come into contact with water as they are emerging, the female worms discharge their larvae, setting in motion a new life cycle.
There are no drugs available for the treatment of this disease. However, it can be prevented by protecting water sources and filtering potentially contaminated water.