“Foul Water Fiery Serpent,” a documentary feature film that follows dedicated health workers — including Carter Center staff and national health partners, as well as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter — engaged in a final battle to eradicate Guinea worm disease in Africa, will air on American Public Television stations nationwide beginning April 1. Click here for a list of air dates/locations >
For nearly three years, “Foul Water Fiery Serpent” tracked determined teams of men and women as they fought the closing skirmishes to wipe out some of the last Guinea worms in Ghana and Southern Sudan, attacking the parasite where it thrived: in poor, remote villages that rely on contaminated water. Ghana has since stopped transmission of the disease, and the majority of the world’s remaining cases—fewer than 1,100*—are located in South Sudan, Mali, Ethiopia, and an isolated outbreak in Chad.
“And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died…” Numbers 21:4-9.
Parasitologists believe the “fiery serpents” of the Bible might have been Guinea worms. The disease would have been present in the Middle East at the time of the Exodus, as it was until recently. The worms can be the width of a piece of spaghetti and cause excruciating pain when breaking through the skin to release their larvae, so it is easy to understand how they could be called “fiery serpents.”
For thousands of years, the Guinea worm parasite (Dracunculus medinensis) has caused disabling misery, infecting people who drink stagnant water contaminated with the worm’s larvae. After growing inside the human host for a year, the adult female worm, up to 3-feet-long, emerges from the body through a skin blister, causing incapacitating pain and sometimes crippling its victims. There is no cure for Guinea worm disease, and the only treatment is wrapping the worm around a piece of gauze or a stick and painfully pulling it out, inch by inch, every day, for weeks. Learn more about the Carter Center’s Guinea Worm Eradication Program >
When The Carter Center-led initiative began in 1986, there were an estimated 3.5 million cases of the disease in 21 countries in Africa and Asia. Guinea worm disease has been reduced by more than 99.9 percent through the work of The Carter Center and its partners, and is likely to be only the second human disease in history, after smallpox, to be eradicated from the Earth, and the first to be wiped out without a medicine or vaccine.
Narrated by actress Sigourney Weaver, the documentary was produced by Cielo Productions. Visit the website >
*Provisional, Jan-Dec. 2011.
Air Dates/Locations: “Foul Water Fiery Serpent”
Cielo Productions – Directed by Gary Strieker – 88 min.
Note: Local airtimes listed. More dates to be added.
- Baltimore (WMPT2) – April 1 @ 10:30 p.m.
- Miami (WLRN) – April 2 @ 11 p.m.; April 3 @ 5 a.m.
- Georgia (GPB) – April 4 @ 7 p.m.
- San Antonio (KLRN/World Channel) – April 4 @ 10 p.m. and 7 p.m.
- Tampa (WUSF) – April 5 @ 10 p.m.; April 6 @ 1 a.m., 4 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m.
- Oregon (OPB) – April 5 @ 8 p.m. (OPB Plus)
- Denver (KBDI) – April 5 @ 9 p.m.; April 6 @ 12 a.m.; April 7 @ 7 p.m.
- Seattle (KCTS) – April 6 @ 12 p.m.; April 22 @ 11 p.m.
- West Palm Beach (WXEL) – April 7 @ 8 p.m.
- Detroit (WTVS) – April 9 @ 12 a.m.
- Nashville (WNPT) – April 9 @ 11 p.m.
- North Carolina (UNCTV-MX) – April 10 @ 10 p.m. and April 16 @ 6 a.m.
- Sacramento (KVIE) – April 11 @ 11 p.m.; April 13 @ 2 a.m.; April 16 @ 4 a.m. on KVIE2; April 18 @ 7 p.m. on KVIE2
- San Francisco (KRCB) – April 17 @ 9 p.m.
- Kansas City (KCPT 19.1) – April 20 @ 10 p.m.; (KCPT 19.2) – April 1 @ 3 p.m., April 5 @ 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.; April 6 @ 1 a.m., April 7 @ 4 a.m.
- Harrisburg, PA (WITF) – April 20 @ 10 p.m.
- New York (WLIW) – April 20 @ 2 a.m. and April 22 @ 5 a.m.
- Cleveland (WVIZ) April 22 @ 3 p.m.
- Washington DC (WHUT): April 22 @ 10 p.m. and April 24 @ 8 p.m.
- Los Angeles (KLCS) April 24 @ 8 p.m.
- Milwaukee (PTV) – April 29 @ 9 a.m.
- South Carolina (SCETV) – April 30 @ 10 p.m. (SCETV is a statewide network that overlaps into Ga. and N.C.).
- World TV, formerly known as PBSWorld, is a PBS-affiliated channel that simulcasts on more than 50 subscriber stations nationwide. (For stations in other time zones, adjust air times accordingly):
- May 27 @ 8 a.m., 2 p.m., 9 p.m. EDT
- May 28 @ 1 a.m. EDT (10 p.m. PDT on May 27)
- May 31 @5 a.m., 11 a.m. EDT
- June 1 @6 a.m. EDT
- Indianapolis (WFYI) – May 10 @ 9 p.m.