guinea worm

a long, slender, roundworm, Dracunculus medinensis, parasitic under the skin of humans and animals, common in parts of India and Africa.
[1690-1700]

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or medina worm or dragon worm

Nematode (Dracunculus medinensis) that is a common parasite of humans and other mammals in tropical Asia and Africa and has been introduced into the West Indies and tropical South America.

The female grows to 20–48 in. (50–120 cm) long; the male, which dies upon mating, is only about 0.5–1.1 in. (12–29 mm) long. Both sexes live in the connective tissue of the host animal. Humans become infected when they drink water containing tiny crustaceans (e.g., copepods) that have eaten guinea-worm larvae. The disease the guinea worm carries, called dracunculiasis, can be extremely debilitating and painful.

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also called  medina worm , or  dragon worm (species Dracunculus medinensis) 

      member of the phylum Nematoda. The guinea worm, a common parasite (parasitism) of humans in tropical regions of Asia and Africa, has also been introduced into the West Indies and tropical South America. A variety of other mammals are also parasitized by guinea worms. The disease caused by the worm is called dracunculiasis.

      The female grows to a length of 50 to 120 cm (about 20 to 48 inches), while the male (which is rarely found because it dies upon mating within a human or other host) measures only 12 to 29 mm (about 0.5 to 1.1 inches). Both sexes live in the connective tissue of various organs of the host. Females may live for 10 to 14 months. The female bores close to the skin surface, at which point a blister develops and finally bursts. Millions of larvae are released with the blister fluid. If the larvae are discharged into a watery medium and are eaten by Cyclops, an aquatic crustacean, they develop in the crustacean's body into larvae capable of infecting human beings.

      The human being becomes infected by drinking water containing the barely visible flealike crustacean containing the worm larvae. Gastric juices kill Cyclops, and the guinea worm larvae then bore from the human host's intestinal tract into blood vessels; they are carried to connective tissue areas, where they soon develop into adults. Adult worms slowly emerge from blisters, especially on the victim's legs or feet. When the victim enters a pond, stream, or other water, the released larvae are eaten by the crustaceans, to continue the cycle.

      For humans the disease dracunculiasis can be extremely debilitating and painful, with worms slowly emerging from open blisters. The open blisters are also a common point of entry for other infections, such as tetanus. Several thousand people are currently infected by guinea worms; however, this number is declining.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Guinea worm — Guinea Guin ea (g[i^]n [ e]), n. 1. A district on the west coast of Africa (formerly noted for its export of gold and slaves) after which the Guinea fowl, Guinea grass, Guinea peach, etc., are named. [1913 Webster] 2. A gold coin of England… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • guinea worm — n a slender tropical nematode worm of the genus Dracunculus (D. medinensis) that is a human parasite with no known animal reservoir, has an adult female that may attain a length of several feet, and is characterized by a life cycle which includes …   Medical dictionary

  • Guinea worm — n. a nematode worm (Dracunculus medinensis) of tropical Africa and S Asia, parasitic as an adult in the subcutaneous tissues of humans and other mammals: the female can reach a length of c. 90 cm ( c. 3 ft) …   English World dictionary

  • Guinea worm — noun 1. a painful and debilitating infestation contracted by drinking stagnant water contaminated with Guinea worm larvae that can mature inside a human s abdomen until the worm emerges through a painful blister in the person s skin • Syn:… …   Useful english dictionary

  • guinea-worm — noun A long, white parasitic worm which can live in the human skin. the rishta doctors patiently removing guinea worms, making an incision, trapping the three foot long creatures head in a cleft at the end of a stick, and then slowly winding it… …   Wiktionary

  • guinea worm — noun Date: 1699 a slender nematode worm (Dracunculus medinensis) of tropical regions that is parasitic in humans, has no known animal reservoir, and has an adult female that infests subcutaneous tissues and may attain a length of several feet …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Guinea worm — noun a very long parasitic nematode worm which lives under the skin of infected humans and other mammals in rural Africa and Asia. [Dracunculus medinensis.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • guinea worm — a nematode worm, Dracunculus medinensis, that is a parasite of humans. The white threadlike adult female, 60–120 cm long, lives in the connective tissues beneath the skin. It releases its larvae into a large blister on the legs or arms; when the… …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • guinea worm — guin′ea (or Guin′ea) worm n. ivt a long, slender roundworm, Dracunculus medinensis, parasitic under the skin of humans and other mammals, common in parts of India and Africa …   From formal English to slang

  • guinea worm — /ˈgɪni wɜm/ (say ginee werm) noun a long, slender, nematode worm, Dracunculus medinensis, parasitic under the skin of humans and other animals, common in parts of India and Africa …   Australian English dictionary

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