Disease surveillance detects first case of dracunculiasis in post-2011 Sudan

Case detected in Sudan, near the border with South Sudan

Geneva | 09 September 2013

The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that a worm sample from a suspected case in the southern Darfur region of Sudan is dracunculiasis (Dracunculus medinensis). The laboratory tests were carried out at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a WHO collaborating centre.

This is the first confirmed case to have occurred on Sudanese territory since the independence of South Sudan on 9 July 2011.

The source of the transmission is being thoroughly investigated.

Sudan: first confirmed case in as many years

The sample of the worm was collected from a 35-year-old woman in the village of Kafia Kingi, El Radom locality of South Darfur State, bordering the Western Bahr Al Ghazal State of South Sudan.

It was notified to the local authorities during one of Sudan’s polio ‘National Immunization Days’.

Sudan is in a precertification stage and the last ‘imported’ case recorded by the Sudan Guinea-Worm Eradication Programme was in 2007.

Global situation

Globally, four countries are endemic for the disease: Chad, Ethiopia, Mali and South Sudan.

Strong political commitment, prompt reporting and rapid investigation of rumoured cases combined with effective case-containment and heightened surveillance activities have drastically reduced transmission in South Sudan. The country reported 521 cases out of a global total of 542 in 2012.

Global efforts to eradicate dracunculiasis are progressing, with 90 cases reported to WHO from 1 January to 30 June 2013, compared with 395 cases for the same period in 2012.

This represents a decrease of 77% for the first half of 2013.

WHO’s target is to achieve global interruption of dracunculiasis transmission by 2015.


Dracunculiasis is a crippling parasitic disease caused by Dracunculus medinensis, a long thread-like worm. The disease, which has afflicted humanity for centuries, is transmitted exclusively when people drink water contaminated with parasite-infected water fleas.

See country situation