Neglected tropical diseases

Visceral leishmaniasis or kala-azar


Leishmaniasis is group of diseases caused by parasitic protozoa of the genus Leishmania. Humans are infected via the bite of phlebotomine sandflies, which breed in forest areas, caves, or the burrows of small rodents. They can have cutaneous or mucocutaneous form, but Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) or kala-azar is the one with systemic involvement and fatal if left untreated. It is characterized by prolonged high fever, substantial weight loss, swelling of the spleen and liver, and anaemia. VL is affecting the poor communities with limited access to diagnosis and treatment. Three most affected countries in South East Asia Region are Bangladesh, India and Nepal, while Bhutan has reported sporadic cases.