Focus: GS III- Health
About Kala Azar
- Kala-azar is a slow progressing indigenous disease caused by a protozoan parasite of genus Leishmania.
- In India Leishmania donovani is the only parasite causing this disease.
- The Kala-azar is endemic to the Indian subcontinent in 119 districts in four countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal).
- This disease is the second-largest parasitic killer in the world. Elimination is defined as reducing the annual incidence of Kala Azar (KA) to less than 1 case per 10,000 people at the sub-district level.
- It is a neglected tropical disease affecting almost 100 countries.
- Neglected tropical diseases are a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries.
There are three types of leishmaniasis
- Visceral leishmaniasis, which affects multiple organs and is the most serious form of the disease.
- Cutaneous leishmaniasis, which causes skin sores and is the most common form.
- Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis, which causes skin and mucosal lesions.
The Visceral leishmaniasis, which is commonly known as Kala-azar in India, is fatal in over 95% of the cases, if left untreated.
Symptoms of Kala azar
- It is associated with fever, loss of appetite (anorexia), fatigue, enlargement of the liver, spleen and nodes and suppression of the bone marrow.
- It also increases the risk of other secondary infections.
Diagnosing Kala azar
- The first oral drug found to be effective for treating kala-azar is miltefosine.
- The most common method of diagnosing kala azar is by dipstick testing. However, this method is highly problematic.