Guinea worm eradication genomics
I was involved in attempts to provide genetic evidence to support the Guinea worm eradication program. I was initially asked whether we could show genetically that the worms then appearing in dog infections in Chad were the same - Dracunculus medinensis - as those causing human cases. This sounded easy, but the project was surprisingly painful, particularly as the worm tissue samples were frequently very heavily contaminated with bacterial growth and/or host material. We did manage to show that all of the animal infections were from the same population as the human infections, but our plans to get a more detailed understanding of the epidemiology of the infection from genomic data haven’t really come to fruition. Luckily, other molecular work by Liz Thiele and others that I have been involved in have started to produce programmatically useful insights.