What is Kala Azar?

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What is Kala Azar? Blog Image


India has achieved its target to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis, commonly known as kala-azar, according to data from the National Centre for Vector Borne Diseases Control (NCVBDC).

About Kala Azar

  • Kala azar, or visceral leishmaniasis, is the second deadliest parasitic disease in the world after Malaria.
  • It is one of the most dangerous neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and is endemic in 76 countries.
  • It is also known as black fever or Dum-Dum fever, referring to the greyish or blackish discoloration of the skin during infection.
  • It is caused by a protozoan parasite of the genus Leishmania, which is transmitted by the bite of infected female phlebotomine sandflies.
  • In India, Leishmania donovani is the only parasite causing this disease.
  • The parasite primarily infects the reticuloendothelial system and may be found in abundance in the bone marrow, spleen, and liver.
  • Post Kala-azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL) is a condition when Leishmania donovani invades skin cells, resides and develops there, and manifests as dermal leisions. Some of the kala-azar cases manifests PKD Later a few years of treatment.
  • The disease affects some of the poorest people and is linked to malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing, a weak immune system, and a lack of financial resources.
  • Leishmaniasis is also linked to environmental changes such as deforestation, and urbanisation, according to the WHO.
  • Symptoms:
    • Kala-azar is characterized by irregular bouts of fever, substantial weight loss, swelling of the spleen and liver, and severe anaemia.
    • If the disease is not treated early and in time, affected individuals can die within two years.
  • Treatment:
    • Treatment of Kala Azar is done through liposomal AmB; this is the drug of choice for immunocompetent patients.
    • There are other treatment options available, such as paromomycin, miltefosine, and multidrug therapy.

Q1: What are neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)?

NTDs are a diverse group of 20 conditions/diseases that are mainly prevalent in tropical areas, where they thrive among people living in impoverished communities. They are caused by a variety of pathogens (including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, and toxins) and are associated with devastating health, social, and economic consequences. These include Guinea worm, Chikungunya, Dengue, Kala Azar (Visceral Leishmaniasis), and Elephantiasis (Lymphatic Filariasis), among others, and India is home to about 12 NTDs. The WHO estimates that NTDs affect more than 1 billion people, while the number of people requiring NTD interventions (both preventive and curative) is 1.6 billion.

Source: India achieves target to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis 'Kala-Azar'