The Fiery Serpent

Guinea worm disease, scientifically named Dracunculiasis and nicknamed The Fiery Serpent based on presumed biblical references, is a water-born parasite that causes a painful blister from which a worm emerges.  The disease can be so debilitating that a patient is unable to walk for several days or even weeks until the worm is completely removed. 

Closely tied to issues of water shortage, Guinea worm is spread when a patient with an emerged worm walks inside a source of drinking water and the worm lays its eggs.  In Ghana's Northern Region, many communities have only one small, contaminated dam from which they fetch their drinking water, causing the area to be one of the few remaining places on earth that are highly endemic with Guinea worm disease.

UPDATE: This photo essay contains images from 2006-2008. Ghana was certified as having eradicated Guinea worm disease in 2015.