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Kala Azar: Causes, types, symptoms and treatment

Published on Jul 20, 2022 09:55 AM IST

West Bengal reported 65 cases of Kala Azar in the last few weeks. From symptoms of the disease to the ways of treatment, know all about Kala Azar here from the experts.

Kala Azar: Causes, types, symptoms and treatment
ByTapatrisha Das, Delhi

In the past few weeks, West Bengal saw a rise in the number of Kala Azar cases. In 11 districts of the state including Darjeeling, Malda, Uttar Dinajpur, Dakshin Dinajpur and Kalimpong, 65 cases of black fever have been reported. In the light of the rampant spread of Kala Azar, Dr Ajay Agarwal - Director & HOD, Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital Noida spoke to HT Lifestyle and explained the causes and the types of this disease. Kala Azar or black fever is a disease caused by infection with Leishmania parasites. It is transmitted by female sandfly - Phlebotomus argentipes. It is also known as visceral leishmaniasis or black fever or Dum-Dum fever.

ALSO READ: West Bengal: 65 black fever cases reported from 11 districts


It is caused due to chronic infection of the Reticuloendothelial system. The Infections range from asymptomatic to progressive symptomatic. In Kala Azar, the incubation period is usually 2-4 months. The patient becomes fatal after 6 months to 2 years if not treated properly, explained Dr Ajay Agarwal.


Cutaneous leishmaniasis: This is another form of Kala-azar which results in skin lesions – mainly ulcers on the exposed parts of the body, which creates scars and serious disability. The lesions usually are painless but can be painful, particularly if open sores become infected with bacteria. Types of Cutaneous leishmaniasis:

Mucosal Leishmaniasis: In this type of Cutaneous leishmaniasis, the infectin results from the dissemination of parasites from the skin to the naso-oropharyngeal mucosa.


Dr Surendra Kumar, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Accord Super Speciality Hospital, Faridabad pointed out the symptoms of this disease - " Most common presentation of Kala Azar or VL is high grade fever with chills and rigors which may continue up to weeks; followed by massive splenomegaly and Hepatomegaly with abdomen distension and swelling of feet. It can also cause pigmentation of the skin. Kala Azar can mimic other febrile diseases like malaria, typhoid fever, TB and other fungal infections. People with immunosuppressed condition are highly vulnerable to Kala Azar."


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, miltefosin and multidrug therapy treatment.

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