n. a tropical disease caused by the parasitic nematode Dracunculus medinensis (see guinea worm) in the tissues beneath the skin. The disease is transmitted to humans via contaminated drinking water. The initial symptoms, which appear a year after infection, result from the migration of the worm to the skin surface and include itching, giddiness, difficulty in breathing, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Later a large blister forms on the skin, usually on the legs or arms, which eventually bursts and may ulcerate and become infected. Dracontiasis is common in India and West Africa but also occurs in Arabia, Iran, East Africa, and Afghanistan. Treatment involves extracting the worm or administering anthelmintics.
Subjects: Medicine and Health.