The female guinea worm induces a painful blister (A); after rupture of the blister, the worm emerges as a whitish filament (B) in the center of a painful ulcer which is often secondarily infected.
The male worm is small and probably dies after copulation. The female worm, which averages I m in length, wanders out to the subcutaneous tissue, specially that of the feet and legs.
Dracunculosis in Niger. Gross findings of a coiled subcutaneous worm in the leg of a 18 y-o female. Severe pain restricts the labor and results in a big ecomonic damage to the society. Patients enter the water to relieve the pain, when the Guinea worm releases microfilariae into the water.
The adult female worms often induce cutaneous ulcer formation. When the ulcerated area is immersed in water, the female deposits many larvae into the water that eventually develop in microscopic copepods. When these are subsequently ingested by people drinking the contaminated water, the parasites are digested free of the copepods and migrate throughout the body, over a long period of time (months to years). The female worm can achieve lengths approximating 1 m. Note the atrophic circular scars present as the result of previous infection.