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South Sudan detects new cases of Guinea worm disease

A guinea worm is extracted by a health worker from a child's foot at a containment centre in Savelugu, Ghana (File Photo AP)

July 23, 2018 (JUBA) — South Sudan Health Minister Riak Gai announced on Monday the detection of three cases of Guinea worm disease in Western Lakes State.

In a joint press conference with Moses Mutebi Nganda World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Juba Gai confirmed the return of the disease thanks to the intensive surveillance system in the country.

The minister said the weapon collection campaign carried out by the government in the Lakes region and the cash reward programme contributed to the detection of the new cases.

"Over 25 worm specimens were taken for laboratory analysis in CDC Atlanta, Georgia of which three were confirmed positive," Gai said.

The three patients are two young female s and a 25-year cattle keeper.

Guinea worm disease, or dracunculiasis, is transmitted through contaminated water. It causes painful skin lesions incapacitating victims and making them unable to work.

In March 2018, Carter Center announced it stopped the Guinea worm in South Sudan and expressed hope that soon it would be entirely eliminated from the face of the earth.

In 2016, there were twenty-five reported cases of Guinea worm in the world, in Ethiopia, Niger and South Sudan which accounted over 500 cases, or around 96% of the world’s remaining cases of the disease.

WHO representative said the detection of three in the troubled country is a new challenge for them and the health authorities.

"I am totally convinced that eradication of guinea worm disease in this country is on the horizon if the right measures are put in place," said Nganda.

Health experts say the ongoing civil war and massive displacement of population may hamper the full eradication of the disease in South Sudan.