New Delhi: India on the Brink of Eradicating 'Black Fever' (Kala-Azar)

Progress in Eliminating Second Deadliest Parasitic Disease After Malaria Stands Out Globally
New Delhi: India on the Brink of Eradicating 'Black Fever' (Kala-Azar)

NEW DELHI: As part of the global effort to combat tropical diseases, India is on the verge of eradicating kala azar, the second deadliest parasitic disease after malaria. Kala-azar, formerly known as black fever, has dropped dramatically in India, from 33,000 cases in 2008 to just 520 last year, according to official data on the World Health Organization (WHO) Neglected Tropical Disease Day experts on India's severe form of leishmaniasis appreciated the rapid progress in disease prevention.

Kala-azar, also referred to as visceral leishmaniasis, is caused by protozoan parasites transmitted through the bite of infected female sandflies. It affects approximately 200 million people in 76 countries, with India, Bangladesh, and Nepal being hot spots in South Asia. Symptoms include anemia, fever, weight loss, and enlargement of the liver and spleen, and the disease is invariably fatal if not treated promptly.

The challenge in combating black leprosy is its late diagnosis, often mistaken for regular fever, which persists for a month or more after treatment Accredited Social Health Workers (ASHAs) in India in rural areas reaching out, educating the public and playing a key role in addressing challenges such as spray resistance.

Toxic chemicals, poor and uninformed populations and the difficulties of eradicating disease-carrying sand flies in 2014, the introduction of one drug, Liposomal amphotericin B (LAMB) contributed significantly to sick people are reduced.

As per WHO guidelines, to maintain this eradication rate, India needs to register less than one case per 10,000 population in the next three years. However, attention should now turn to post-azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL), a skin lesion seen in recovering individuals who act as carriers. Organizations like NGOs and Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) collaborate with ASHA workers to identify and treat cases of PKDL.

Experts emphasize the need for effective and safe treatments for PKDL and emphasize the importance of treating all cases to prevent recurrence of kala-azar. As India reaches this milestone, attention is now shifting to other tropical diseases such as lymphatic filariasis, dengue and chikungunya in the ongoing fight against infectious diseases in the 19th century

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