To the Editor.—
No snakes! Learn your medicine! You have published several letters that have said the symbol of medicine was the caduceus, with two snakes, and then the staff of Aesculapius with one snake... all wrong! If physicians could remember what they learned in medical school, they would not need reminders of the disease dracunculiasis, or guinea worm disease. This disease has a long history in Asia and Africa, where, after the parasites mature in the abdominal cavity (or sometimes other tissues) and mate, the male dies off and the mature gravid female worm, sometimes up to 1 m long, produces a blister, which ruptures, allowing the worm to emerge slowly from the body. It is a time-honored practice to wind the emerging worm around a small stick. This is the representation, using the staff of Aesculapius, that has become the ancient symbol of medicine.