Chad: Chari River

Chari River is the main source of life and water in Chad, and practically all the country’s population is settled along it. The river flows from the south from the jungles of the Central African Republic and feeds into the Lake Chad. A wide river with many waterways – people use it for drinking water, fishing, navigation, laundry, washing themselves…. and back to drinking. Interestingly, Chari River in Chad is the world’s only place and country where Guinea-worm disease still exists – causing dracunculiasis – an infection that seems straight out of the Alien movie. Humans get infected through drinking water polluted with tiny water flees (cyclopes). Water flees carry guinea worm larvae. Once released through digestion, the larvae migrate into tissue. There are no symptoms of infection for a whole year, meanwhile a male and a female worms hatch, grow, meet each other someplace in the body, get romantic, reproduce, and the male worm dies. The female then grows to 60-100cm (2-3 ft), the largest tissue-dwelling parasite known in humans.!One year after infection, a blister appears someplace on the body (usually a leg) and when contacted with water, the female worm comes out to release the larvae into the water. There is no vaccine or cure, the only way is to slowly pull and wait while the worm comes out from the body to release new larvae into the water, it takes 1-7 days, slowly rolling the worm around a stick or a gauze attached to the human body. The disease has been known since the ancient Egypt and was found in mummies, and is referred in the Bible as “fiery serpents”. Finally and amazingly, the well-known medical symbol of the Rod of Asclepius (a snake around a rod), is nothing else but the ancient practice of the extraction of the guinea worm and curing people from Dracunculiasis – this is image with which ancient doctors advertised their practice… But back to Chari River – it presents wonderful landscapes and idyllic panoramas (just don’t drink the water).