Driving them to Extinction
January 25, 2013 4:11 AM   Subscribe

The Guinea Worm, which causes Guinea Worm disease (or Dracunculiasis) is on track to be the first parasitic disease eliminated. And with only a water filter.

Guinea worm extraction

The traditional treatment, which is to draw the worm out by carefully winding it around a stick, may be the source of the Staff of Asclepius. This is 3500-year-old treatment remains the same as described in the Ebers Papyrus.

Previously:
The Tale Of The Guinea Worm
I Am Determined To Outlive The Last Guinea Worm

Of course, the Save the Guinea Worm Foundation wants to maintain our precious biodiversity.
posted by the man of twists and turns (31 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
God bless Jimmy Carter. And I say that as an atheist.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:18 AM on January 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


Finally, a human-caused extinction I can feel good about!
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:19 AM on January 25, 2013 [14 favorites]


Might as well say this here - if you don't want to watch thread-thin parasites emerging from open sores on people's legs and feet, don't click the links.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:21 AM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Has the makings of a great Toho Kaiju film: "Carter vs. The Guinea Worm".

But seriously, magnificent news that can't come soon enough.
posted by nickggully at 4:22 AM on January 25, 2013


I looked at the Save the Guinea Worm Foundation site, and I think it's satire. Even if it's not and there actually are people who think that way, I'm going to act as though there aren't. While it's not doing any actual harm, it's also not doing any actual good.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:29 AM on January 25, 2013


.
posted by Renoroc at 4:47 AM on January 25, 2013


I looked at the Save the Guinea Worm Foundation site, and I think it's satire.

"Yet despite growing public support for environmentalism and preservation of endangered species, few people will speak out on the Guinea Worm's behalf."

Well they're trying to make the point that all species exist for some reason and that any extinction by man of nature's creatures might have unexpected or unwanted side-effects. Wolves, e.g., were almost hunted to extinction - for what seemed the benefit of human beings - and are now being re-introduced in "the wild".

The fact of the matter seems to be that "our precious biodiversity" is only precious when it looks like a Panda and can be caged in a zoo or used to stop some large construction or mining project.

Poking fun at the hypocrisy of "bio-diversity" may not be doing a great amount of good, but it is a fair swipe at tree-huggers nonetheless.
posted by three blind mice at 4:47 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Click here for more information about becoming a Preserver, and volunteering to host a living Guinea Worm. As we are backlogged with requests for more information, processing your membership may take some time. We apologize for the delay.

Aw, come on. This has to be a joke.
posted by jquinby at 4:50 AM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well they're trying to make the point that all species exist for some reason

The reason is: because it managed to survive. It's not freaking mystical.
posted by curious nu at 4:55 AM on January 25, 2013 [14 favorites]


If you want more disturbing parasite info, check out this thread from Fiercecupcake about Screw-worm eradication in the US.
posted by fontophilic at 5:03 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, OK, but Gareth Morgan is still not getting his hands on my cats.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:11 AM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


> Poking fun at the hypocrisy of "bio-diversity" may not be doing a great amount of good, but it is a fair swipe
> at tree-huggers nonetheless.

Speaking as one, I only really love trees. I don't see a huge hypocracy gap between "I love all humanity (except the people I can't stand)", which is widely practiced on both ends of the spectrum (yes, yes, and in the middle), and "I love all life on Earth (except the forms that are just too eww). It's when we move on to "...buy you should love all whatever and not reserve and "except" that problems arise.

As for the guinea worm, you go Jimmy Earl!
posted by jfuller at 5:40 AM on January 25, 2013


Another tragedy of war... Jan 18 2013: Fighting imperils eradication of Guinea worm disease
posted by Theta States at 6:01 AM on January 25, 2013


Are we really confident that this parasite won't just ride it out infesting African river mammals and jump back to homo sapiens when the coast is clear?
posted by ocschwar at 6:17 AM on January 25, 2013


I hope we freeze a few just in case we ever need to know something about their biology. Other than that, though, this is great.
posted by pracowity at 6:23 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are we really confident that this parasite won't just ride it out infesting African river mammals and jump back to homo sapiens when the coast is clear?

Yes.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:32 AM on January 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, OK, but Gareth Morgan is still not getting his hands on my cats.

That's just the toxoplasmosis talking...
posted by ennui.bz at 7:16 AM on January 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


According to Wikipedia: "Dracunculus medinensis has been reported in humans, dogs, cats, horses, cattle, and other animals in Africa and Asia. " so I would think that it will persevere infecting other mammals.
posted by mary8nne at 7:28 AM on January 25, 2013


i have always said that we need to have a 'jimmy carter ex president award.'
posted by lester's sock puppet at 7:29 AM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dracunculiasis (Guinea Worm Disease) and the Eradication Initiative, Clinical Microbiology Reviews
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:38 AM on January 25, 2013


In somewhat related parasite news...
posted by louche mustachio at 7:38 AM on January 25, 2013


louche mustachio, I forgot about that!
Brazilian Bikini Waxes Make Crab Lice 'Endangered Species'
“Pubic grooming has led to a severe depletion of crab louse populations,” said Ian F. Burgess, a medical entomologist with Insect Research & Development Ltd. in Cambridge, England. “Add to that other aspects of body hair depilation, and you can see an environmental disaster in the making for this species.”
Another example of habitat loss pushing a species to the brink!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:44 AM on January 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


Any metafilter post that can link to a WHO document that says this:

Finely-meshed cloth or, better still, a filter made from a 0.15 mm nylon mesh, is all that is needed to filter out the cyclops from the drinking water;

Is alright in my books. Metafilter - Your #1 source for cyclops prevention.
posted by Phreesh at 7:52 AM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hooray for horrible parasite eradication!

It's possible the Guinea worm has some vital ecological function, but barring some evidence, that's a risk I am willing to take.
posted by emjaybee at 8:27 AM on January 25, 2013


> According to Wikipedia: "Dracunculus medinensis has been reported in humans, dogs, cats, horses, cattle, and other animals in Africa and Asia. " so I would think that it will persevere infecting other mammals.

Wikipedia maddeningly doesn't cite anything for this claim. The article Differentiating Dracunculus medinensis from D. insignis, by the sequence analysis of the 18S rRNA gene, however, did look at non-human infections and found that while some of the cases of D. medinensis (the actual human cause of Guinea Worm) in animals were true, this doesn't appear to be a viable path for survival. They concluded that:
There is, however, no evidence to indicate that the transmission of D. medinensis to humans has ever been reintroduced in any formerly endemic country (e.g. Uzbekistan, Iran, India, Pakistan, Yemen and Senegal) as the result of canine or other, non-human infections. Humans are the principle host of this infection.
Anyone who wants the fulltext article, please MeMail me.
posted by Panjandrum at 10:34 AM on January 25, 2013


If you don't want to watch thread-thin parasites emerging from open sores on people's legs and feet...

...give thanks to the people who are guaranteeing that no one will ever involuntarily see that again.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:57 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


3BM: The fact of the matter seems to be that "our precious biodiversity" is only precious when it looks like a Panda and can be caged in a zoo or used to stop some large construction or mining project.

That was roughly my thought when seeing the post title this morning. I hope I'm not overly sentimental about any endangered species, but Guinea worms are really interesting (and destructive). It's a mixed blessing, as Carl Zimmer notes in the linked article:

We don’t know how long it has infected humans, or where it came from before that. What little we do know should make us intensely curious about what we don’t know–and what we may never know.

For example, in 2002, a team of scientists at the State University of New York discovered that guinea worms make morphine. ... Morphine also suppresses the immune system, which may partly explain how it is that we can carry a four-foot-long worm inside of us for over a year without experience organ rejection. Just as transplant surgeons tamp down a patient’s immune system before putting in a new liver, the guinea worm may apply its own immune-suppressing pharmaceuticals.


If it is eliminated in the wild, I wonder if one of the related species might jump back to humans? (I doubt if it will get the opportunity.)
posted by sneebler at 4:00 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd bet more than morphine is required for a four foot worm to evade the immune system, and that transplant surgeons would very much like to know just what that more might be.

By the way, sneebler, I read recently that Toxoplasma in the brain causes much greater secretion of dopamine:
two lines of published evidence suggest that the parasite alters neurotransmitter signal transduction: the disruption of the parasite-induced behavioral changes with medications used to treat psychiatric disease (specifically dopamine antagonists) and identification of a tyrosine hydroxylase encoded in the parasite genome. In this study, infection of mammalian dopaminergic cells with T. gondii enhanced the levels of K+-induced release of dopamine several-fold, with a direct correlation between the number of infected cells and the quantity of dopamine released. Immunostaining brain sections of infected mice with dopamine antibody showed intense staining of encysted parasites. Based on these analyses, T. gondii orchestrates a significant increase in dopamine metabolism in neural cells. Tyrosine hydroxylase, the rate-limiting enzyme for dopamine synthesis, was also found in intracellular tissue cysts in brain tissue with antibodies specific for the parasite-encoded tyrosine hydroxylase. These observations provide a mechanism for parasite-induced behavioral changes. The observed effects on dopamine metabolism could also be relevant in interpreting reports of psychobehavioral changes in toxoplasmosis-infected humans.
Things just go better with cats.
posted by jamjam at 6:34 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Things just go better with cats.

NICE TRY, CATS.
posted by jquinby at 6:36 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: Things just go better with cats.
posted by christopherious at 11:32 PM on January 25, 2013


Previous talk on metafilter about the worm.
posted by Mitheral at 11:11 PM on January 26, 2013


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