2018 Children's Science News - Gold

Guinea worm disease, a disabling condition that once afflicted millions of people mostly in rural areas of Africa and Asia, is now close to eradication thanks to aggressive efforts by public health authorities to promote use of clean drinking water. The number of cases has dropped from 3.5 million in 1986 to 25 cases in 2016, and the end is in sight. Jeanne Miller told her young readers about the complex life cycle of the disease, in which tiny fleas containing the guinea worm larvae are ingested through contaminated drinking water. The spaghetti-like worms eventually emerge through the skin and can be two-feet long or more. Miller told her story through the work of Donald Hopkins, special advisor for Guinea worm eradication at the Carter Center in Atlanta. Judge Paul Basken, North America editor for Times Higher Education, praised Miller for tackling an important problem that affects millions of people while presenting the story “with an engaging mix of age-appropriate grossness.” Miller, who previously won the Children’s Science News award in 2011, said there were no drugs or vaccines to treat Guinea worm. “Instead there was a massive education campaign that changed the behavior of the at-risk populations,” she said. “That amazed me, and I thought young readers would want to know about the heroes who took on the challenge of eradicating the Guinea worm.”