Visceral Leishmaniasis

Dr. Ira Shah
Consultant Pediatrician, B.J.Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai, India
First Created: 01/07/2002  Last Updated: 08/01/2015

Patient Education

What is the Kala-azar?

Kala-azar is an infection due to the parasite called Leishmania. This parasite is found in humans and transmitted by an insect known as sandfly. Untreated Kala Azar leads to death. It is predominantly seen in Eastern North India especially states such as Bihar, West Bengal & Assam. Epidemics of this disease occur periodically.

What are the symptoms of Kalaazar?

Patients with Kala-azar present with fever, pallor, and darkening of the skin especially on the face, hands, and upper part of the body. In fact, the term kala-azar means black disease (Kala = black, Azar = disease). There may be mild pain in the abdomen. The doctor on the examination will find enlargement of the liver and spleen. Untreated, a child may go on to develop other infections, liver disease, jaundice, and even death.

How is the diagnosis of kalaazar made?

The diagnosis of Kala-azar is made by demonstrating the parasite in the body. Commonly the parasite resides in the bone marrow, spleen, and liver, and thus biopsy from these areas is used to demonstrate the parasite.

What is the treatment of Kalaazar?

Kala-azar parasite can remain for a very long time in the body. Thus, many times symptoms occur after long periods such as ½ or 2 years. Kala-azar is treated by specialized medicines and the course of treatment may last for 28 days to even 3 months. Various injections such as amphotericin, pentamidine. sodium stibogluconate and newer tablets such as Miltefosine are used in the treatment of this disease. The patient with kala-azar needs to be monitored for at least 6 months after treatment is over to watch for relapse.

How can kala azar be prevented?

Use curtain at a sleeping time or mosquito quail or mosquito nets and mosquito coils. Application of mosquito repellants such as DEET can help to prevent insect bites when outdoors.

Is there any vaccine to prevent Kala Azar?

There is no vaccine to prevent kala-azar.

Visceral Leishmaniasis Visceral Leishmaniasis 2015-08-01
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