The Guinea Worm Straw

What is our “guinea worm straw”?

After being president, Jimmy Carter wanted to focus much of his time and resources. He spoke to experts around the world, asking them what was one problem that with time and attention could actually be solved? Not minimized, but solved?

Their consensus? Little Dragons.

Dracunculiasis (Latin, affliction with little dragons) is the disease affecting humans, caused by the guinea worm. It’s painful, ostracizing, and can lead to amputations. I won’t go into the details – you can read about it, if you’d like.

But the Carter Center brought together experts, and they created a program of prevention and treatment that can lead to the eradication of the guinea worm from planet Earth. A key part of the plan is a simple filtering tube – a drinking straw – that people can wear on a string around their necks.

The disease once afflicted 3.5 million people a year. Even with the challenges from the covid-19 pandemic, it is estimated that there are only 27 cases left.

From 3.5 million to 27. They haven’t completed the job, but they’re very close.

Eradicating a disease is probably beyond our resources, but I am curious about whether there are any problems in our local community that Live Oak could actually solve. Eradicate. Not just make progress. Not just “show where we stand.” Are there any problems we could solve?

What is our guinea worm straw?