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The guinea worm is nearly extinct, largely thanks to the work of Jimmy Carter and his Carter Foundation.  

The guinea worm is an ancient killer, showing up in Greek writings as far back as the 2nd century, BC.  Guinea worms are ingested by drinking contaminated drinking water, and the whole process is just gross.  The female worm can be 2-3 feet long (within a human body), and emerges through a blister in the leg or foot.  

Well, Jimmy Carter vowed back in 1980 to help eradicate this scourge, and he has done just that.  In the 1950's, there were an estimated 50 million cases.  Last year there were less than 4,000 cases, and this year, about half that amount.

The worm now only exists in 4 countries, but the areas infected are remote, and plagued with war.  Carter says he wants to outlive the guinea worm.

I love this quote from the Huffington Post article:

As Carter put it: "War and good health are incompatible."

Jimmy Carter won his Nobel Prize in 2002 for decades of work seeking peaceful solutions and promoting social and economic justice.  Maybe his work on the guinea worm was part of this prize, or maybe it's too soon for #2.

But there's a case to be made that this feat alone would deserve a Nobel prize.

Originally posted to tcdup on Sun Dec 26, 2010 at 07:21 AM PST.

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