Guinea Worm Documentary Is a Real-Life Horror Film Guinea Worm Documentary Is a Real-Life Horror Film
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Guinea Worm Documentary Is a Real-Life Horror Film

by Ann Marie Gardner

January 7, 2011

Next Thursday, University of Washington's Department of Global Health shows the first screening of Foul Water, Fiery Serpent, 

The film, narrated by Sigourney Weaver, is a David and Goliath tale of health workers in Ghana and Sudan fighting the dreaded Guinea worm. These are the three-feet-long worms that grow inside the victim for a year after the infected person drinks water containing the worm's larvae. Then, in reality that outdoes any horror scene ever recorded, the one-year-old worm bursts out of  the skin through a blister. The worst of it (it's not over ) is described on the film's website:

There is no cure for this disease, and the only treatment is wrapping the worm around a stick and pulling it out, inch by inch, every day, for weeks.

The film features Jimmy Carter whose Carter Center has been instrumental in Guineau worm eradication, which has gone from 3.5 million infected in 1986 to fewer than 3,200 at the end of 2009. I had no idea he was so involved and had been so successful for so many years, but the film's website explains that the worm's near-eradication is thanks in large part to the efforts of Carter and his foundation:

I'm still determined to outlive the last guinea worm," Carter told The Associated Press in a phone interview. The 86-year-old set that goal in the 1980s, when his center helped eliminate guinea worm from Pakistan and other Asian nations.

The Carter Center has battled the worm for 24 years through education and the distribution of strainers that purify drinking water. It has helped erase guinea worm in more than 20 countries, and it believes the worm will follow smallpox -- which was wiped out in the late 1970s -- as the next disease to be eradicated from the human population.

The film, which documents health workers over three years working to eradicate the worm has already won a slew of film festival awards. Watch it if you dare. 

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Guinea Worm Documentary Is a Real-Life Horror Film