- When there is no safe water to wash one’s hands or to clean a child’s face, it is easy to get conjunctivitis (pink eye).
- A simple eye infection can lead to trachoma, which leads to blindness when left untreated.
- In Niger, it is typically untreated. 40% of Nigeriens have trachoma, as do more than one-third of children under 10.
- The disease is caused by a parasite that enters the body through contaminated water.
- An actual worm lives and grows inside the body sometimes reaching a foot or more in length.
- The painful, burning sensation it causes led people to call the disease the fiery serpent.
- There is no known cure.
- The majority of victims are children who contract the disease through contact with contaminated water.
- Although it is not typically fatal, bilharzia can severely damage internal organs and impair physical and cognitive development.
- In boys, Bilharzia can cause severe pain and blood when urinating.
- It is the most devastating parasitic disease after malaria.
“It’s very painful…especially during the rainy season…I can’t sleep. I was about 13 when I got it. It starts with a wound…the wound breaks and pus comes out and then the worm will stick its head out and you get hold of it, tie it on a stick and roll it. You cannot pull it. It comes out gradually.”