Class blog for sharing and commenting on current events in biology.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

McNeil, Donald G., Jr. "Another Scourge in His Sights." New York Times 23 Apr. 2013: D1. New York Times, 23 Apr. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

“Another Scourge in His Sights” by Donald G. McNeil Jr tells the amazing story of Dr. Donald R. Hopkins role in the eliminating virtually all the Guinea worm disease in the world.  Growing up Dr. Hopkins lived in Coconut Grove, Miami with 9 other brothers and sisters.  Both of his parent were very concerned with his education and put a lot of weight onto how well he did in school.  While is mother was working at her sewing machine she made her children recite their multiplication tables and a poem called “Don’t Quit” out loud.  At a very young age Hopkins knew he wanted to be a doctor and at 15 he won a scholarship to Morehouse college in Atlanta.  He knew he wanted to study tropical medicine when he went on a trip to Egypt and saw children with trachoma.  In 1967 he went to Sierra Leone to help vaccinate people with smallpox until it died out.  In 1987, as the director of the C.D.C., Dr. Hopkins suggested that instead of trying to get clean drinking water for all people they should take on a more attainable goal of getting rid of the Guinea worm disease.  People become infected by drinking water from freshwater crustaceans called copepods, this is the only clean water source for many.  The larvae escape into the skin usually in the foot or hand, then they create a blister from acid that they pop out of, then the cycle begins again.  People who are woking to get rid of this disease work from the source, water.  They treat ponds with a pesticide to wipe out the copepods and teach families to filter water and help currently suffering victims. Dr. Hopkins has helped, and still helps many people suffering with this disease, he said “...I’m sort of immunized against skepticism.” 
Before Dr. Hopkins and his team were able to begin to tackle the problem of the Guinea worm disease this parasite infected mostly third world countries many of them Africa. With Hopkins help there are now less then 600 cases of this horrifying disease known worldwide. Some cases have been found in Mali, Ethiopia and Chad however, most of them are in South Sudan. The International Commission for the Certification of Dracunculiasis Eradication have certified 187 countries as disease free.  This is very important to the world because although it is not deadly it is very painful and all of Dr. Hopkins’ research has help greatly in beating this horrid disease.  
Overall, I think that this is a very good article that uses humor and amazing facts to tell the story of a great man’s accomplishments.  I love the way this article light hearted jokes to show the personality of a clearly amazing man.  I also think that Guinea worm disease was also explained very well for someone who does not know anything about it.  However, I think that this article could have talked more about Hopkins experiences in Africa fighting this parasite.  This would have made the article more moving and exiting.  Overall I believe that this article was very well written and gives a lot of information about the disease and the man, Dr. Hopkins, who is helping to stop it.   

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