Eleven districts of Bengal reported at least 65 cases of black fever or ‘Kala-Azar disease in the last couple of weeks.
What is ‘Kala-azar’?
- Kala-azar or visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a tropical disease characterised by irregular fever, weight loss, anaemia and swelling of the spleen and liver. It is caused by a protozoan Leishmania parasite and is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected female sandflies. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), globally, about 7 to 10 lakh new cases occur annually.
- India accounts for about two-thirds of the total global cases, and the disease is endemic to Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. An initiative was launched by WHO to eliminate VL as a public health problem from the South East Asia region by 2020. The deadline has now been extended to 2023.