Guinea Worm Eradication Program

Guinea worm, Dracunculus medinensis, is set to become the second human disease in history to be eradicated. However, the closing stages of the global eradication campaign may be affected by the recent detection of clusters of infection among dogs. The problem appears to affect large numbers of animals in Chad but is also evident in Ethiopia.

In humans, transmission pathways are well documented and include drinking contaminated water and eating contaminated fish. Despite this, there is uncertainty around how dogs acquire the infection and knowledge of free-ranging dog biology in Africa is limited.

In 2016 we conducted a pilot investigation of dog biology and have now been awarded a grant (from the Carter Center and WHO) to conduct a larger follow up study in Chad and a smaller study in Ethiopia. Our aim is to understand correlates for the risk of infection, with a particular focus on dog diet and dog activity in relation to water bodies. Using GPS trackers and proximity loggers on a large number of free-ranging domestic dogs, we hope to contribute to the final stages of the eradication program by providing the basis for controlling dog infections.