Thursday, June 21, 2007

Move over smallpox, we killed Guinea worm!

Via Denialismblog comes this story about the impending eradication of Guinea Worm:

"Guinea worm disease, or dracunculiasis — Latin for "affliction with little dragons" — is a plague so ancient that it has been found in Egyptian mummies and has been proposed by some to have been the "fiery serpent" described in the Old Testament as torturing the Israelites in the desert. The global Dracunculiasis Eradication Program spearheaded by former President Jimmy Carter and the Carter Center has now reached its final stages (see graph). This accomplishment is unprecedented — the only disease previously eradicated was smallpox, not a parasitic disease — and it has been achieved through grassroots public health initiatives involving thousands of village volunteers."

This is one of the great things science can do, and it is exciting to see it be succesful with such a formidable adversary. And who do we have to thank for it?

The Carter Center has led the effort with the help of the CDC, the WHO, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and many other donors and nongovernmental organizations, as well as governments of the countries where guinea worms are endemic and thousands of village volunteers.

So much for all those nasty atheists that never do anything for anyone else.

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