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Kala-azar (Black fever) - Causes, Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

29 September, 2020 Ayesha Khanam

Kala-Azar is a late progressing congenital disease caused due to protozoan parasite of the genus Leishmania. The parasite mostly infects the reticuloendothelial system and it is found in plenty in bone marrow, spleen, and liver.

Post-Kala-Azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL)

Post-Kala-Azar Dermal Leishmaniasis is a state in which Leishmania donovani parasites attacks in skin cells. The parasite lives and develops there and exposes as dermal lesions. Freshly it is supposed that PKDL may develop without crossing through the visceral stage. However, enough data is yet to be known on the subject of PKDL sign.

Symptoms of Kala-azar

Recurrent fever comes and goes with the often double rise of temperature. Some of the symptoms and signs you may notice are:

  • Loss of appetite, pallor, and weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Dry skin, thin, scaly, and hair loss you may see. A light skin tone person shows grayish discoloration of the skin that represents the name Kala-Azar which means black fever.
  • Anemic
  • Splenomegaly - spleen enlarges quickly to huge enlargement, normally soft and non-tender.
  • Liver enlargement

What causes Kala-azar?

There is simply one sand fly vector of Kala-Azar in India that is Phlebotomus argentipes. Sandflies are tiny insects, about one-fourth of the size of a mosquito. Sandflies grow in high relative humidity, warm temperature, high subsoil water, and plenty of vegetation. Sandflies breed in pleasant micro-climatic states in places with high organic matter that help as food for larvae. These are ecologically delicate insects, fragile and cannot resist desiccation.

Diagnosis of kala-azar

A case of illness of more than two weeks spans not responding to antimalarials and antibiotics.


  • Serology tests: A variety of examinations are available for diagnosis of Kala-azar. The most basic tests which are based on comparable sensitivity, specificity, and operational feasibility combine the Direct Agglutination Test (DAT), rk39 dipstick, and ELISA. However, all these tests distinguish relatively long-lasting IgG antibodies. Aldehyde Test is generally used, but it is a non-specific examination. IgM detecting tests are beneath progress and not available for field use.
  • Parasite demonstration: In bone marrow/spleen/lymph direction or the culture means is the confirm diagnosis. However, responsiveness modifies with the organ chosen for aspiration. Though spleen aspiration has the highest sensitivity and specificity a skillful professional with proper precautions can make it only at a conventional hospital facility.

How do you manage kala-azar?

Diagnosis and treatment of Kala-Azar are uncertain because of a variety of reasons. While medication is a long and comparatively costly, reliable diagnosis of Kala-Azar requires tissue specimens, which are conventionally taken by organ needle aspiration for the microscopic explanation of amastigote makes in stained smears. Bone marrow the spleen, and lymph-node (in some regions) are the tissues most frequently sampled in patients with a presumed infection. The characteristic sensitivity of splenic aspiration is high (95% - 98%), but the method brings a risk of bleeding, the perception of examination of bone marrow specimens is examined to be lower (53% - 95%). Organ aspiration and detailed examination of smears also need specialized skills that are not consistently available in rural areas. Culture or PCR examination of aspirate material enhances parasitologic yield, but these techniques are rarely undertaken outside of study laboratories. if you want to avail of any medication facilities then you can buy it from 3MEDS - buy online medicines in Delhi.

How to prevent kala-azar?

There are no vaccines or defensive drugs for Kala-azar. The most efficient method to stop infection is to protect from sandfly bites. To reduce the risk of being bitten following preventive measures are available:


  • Avoid outside activities, particularly from dusk to dawn, when sand flies usually are the most active. When outside (or in unprotected quarters), Decrease the amount of visible (uncovered) skin. To the extent that is adequate in the climate, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks, and tuck your shirt into your pants. for any medication facilities, you can buy medication from 3MEDS The online medicine purchasing app
  • Apply insect repellent to revealed skin and under the edges of sleeves and pant legs. Follow the directions on the description of the repellent. The most efficient repellents usually are those that include the chemical DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta toluamide)


  • Live in well-screened or air-conditioned areas.
  • Remember that sand flies are much smaller than mosquitoes and can get through smaller holes.
  • Spray living/sleeping spaces with an insecticide to kill insects. If you are not resting in a well-screened or air-conditioned area, use a mosquito net and tuck it under your bedding.
  • If achievable, use a mosquito net that has been immersed in or scattered with a pyrethroid-containing insecticide. The same treatment can be used to covers, curtains, sheets, and clothing