GUINEA-WORM (Dracontiasis), a disease due to the Filaria medinensis, or Dracunculus, or Guinea-worm, a filarious nematode like a horse-hair, whose most frequent habitat is the subcutaneous and intramuscular tissues of the legs and feet. It is common on the Guinea coast, and in many other tropical and subtropical regions and has been familiarly known since ancient times. The condition of dracontiasis due to it is a very common one, and sometimes amounts to an epidemic. The black races are most liable, but Europeans of almost any social rank and of either sex are not altogether exempt. The worm lives in water, and, like the Filaria sanguinis hominis, appears to have an intermediate host for its larval stage. It is doubtful whether the worm penetrates the skin of the legs directly; it is not impossible that the intermediate host (a cyclops) which contains the larvae may be swallowed with the water, and that the larvae of the Dracunculus may be set free in the course of digestion.
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