Kala-azar – UPSC Prelims

  • Kala-azar is also known as black fever and Dumdum fever.
  • It is most severe form of leishmaniasis.
  • It is zoonotic (or parasatic) infection transmitted by sand fly (Leishmania donovani), a blood-sucking pest, which is one-third size of mosquitoes and found in moist (humid) mud and sand and in close proximity to livestock.
  • Its signs and symptoms include fever, weight loss, fatigue, anaemia, and substantial swelling of liver and spleen.
  • It is treatable and requires a medical diagnosis.
  • If untreated, kala-azar can kill within two years of onset of ailment.
  • Kala-azar belongs to Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) family of diseases which affect poorest populations.
  • It is second-largest parasitic killer in world after Malaria.
  • It is endemic to Indian subcontinent in 119 districts in four countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal).
  • India accounts for about two-thirds of the total global cases and the disease is endemic to Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
  • WHO Initiative: An initiative was launched by WHO to eliminate Kala Azar as a public health problem from the South East Asia region by 2020.The deadline has now been extended to 2023.
  • Initiatives: An integrated control strategy which included mapping of the case distribution, early case detection, chemical-based vector control, community awareness campaigns and strong supervision and monitoring system has helped reduce the cases of Kala Azar from 664 in 2014 to 163 in 2016 in Vaishali district of Bihar.

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