Medical symbol - African parasite?

Jim Mau jimmau at
Sun Nov 17 12:04:14 EST 1996

Howes Christopher J wrote:
> --
>   Hi, I don't know if anyone can help me, but any input would be greatly
> appreciated.  I need some information on the link between the medical
> symbol (staff with 2 intertwining snakes) and an African parasitic
> disease.  This is for a contest I can win a t-shirt for.  They are looking
> for how the symbol evolved, and why it did.
>   Sorry if this is offtopic, but I don't know where else to ask.  Any
> other references would be greatly appreciated as well.
> |----------------------------------------------------|
>   Chris Howes  "CHOWESER"  4cjh4 at


	I have heard the story that suggests that the "caduceus" (i.e. the
"medical symbol") is not two snakes but is Dracunculus medinensis
(Guinea Worm), a parasitic Nematode, wrapped on a stick. After mating in
the connective tissues of the host, the female (which can get up to
4ft.!) will migrate to the surface of the skin.  To remove it, an
incision is made in the skin at the site of the worm and you being
rolling it onto the stick a few cm. at a time, day after day, until you
have retrieved the entire worm.  Kind of like pulling a nightcrawler out
of the ground only longer.  ---  And when your done you can have a Bar B
Que!  :->  Um-um.


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