Pakistan may become the first country to eradicate guinea worm disease, U.S. health officials report.

Pakistan is among 19 countries where guinea worm disease affects an estimated 10 million people each year. The nation is one of several receiving help in battling the disease from Global 2000, an arm of the Carter Presidential Center.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control earlier this month said guinea worm cases in Pakistan have dropped from 1,110 cases in 1988 to 160 last year, indicating "the potential for Pakistan to become the first disease-endemic country to document . . . eradication" of guinea worm disease, or dracunculiasis.

Guinea worm disease is spread through contaminated water. Ingested worm larvae can grow to three feet long and erupt through the skin. The disease is common in parts of Pakistan, India and 17 African nations.