Carter Center reports progress in goal to eliminate Guinea worm disease

Former President Jimmy Carter, right, Dr. Donald Hopkins, center, and Rosalynn Carter, far left, have led a worldwide effort from the Carter Center to eradicate Guinea worm disease. (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)
Former President Jimmy Carter, right, Dr. Donald Hopkins, center, and Rosalynn Carter, far left, have led a worldwide effort from the Carter Center to eradicate Guinea worm disease. (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)

Mercedes-Benz Stadium to glow orange Saturday night in honor of disease fight

Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s orange glow Saturday will not mean the space station-like building is about to take off.

It is part of a worldwide lighting of notable monuments in orange, from the Pyramids in Egypt to the Coliseum in Rome and Tokyo Tower, to bring attention to a worldwide fight against tropical diseases. The humble white farm house in Plains that former President Jimmy Carter grew up in will also be lit up.

Atlanta’s Carter Center is a world leader in trying to eradicate five little known tropical diseases that kill, sicken or disable millions of people in poor countries.

“With the resources, knowledge, and technology available to us today, there is little excuse for millions of people to continue to suffer from these preventable illnesses,” Carter said in written statement.

The center made progress in 2020 against the parasitic Guinea worm disease, one it has led the charge against and is close to eliminating.

It reported that despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of human Guinea worm cases was cut in half to 27 human cases in six African countries in 2020. When the Carter Center began working on elimination in 1986, there were 3.5 million reported cases in 21 countries. The number of cases reported in animals was also down to about 1,600.

“The numbers we are seeing are very encouraging,” said Jason Carter, chair of the center’s board of trustees. “However, the target number is zero — a complete, sustained absence of human cases and infections in animals — and we will not stop pushing until we get there.”

Only one human disease has ever been eradicated. That was smallpox, in 1980.

In Other News