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India Achieves Kala Azar Elimination Target in 2023

Published: 4th Mar, 2024

Context

India achieves a major milestone in the battle against Kala Azar, with less than one reported case per 10,000 population across all blocks in 2023, showcasing a significant reduction from 891 cases and three deaths in 2022 to 595 cases and four deaths last year, according to data from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme.

About the disease:

  • Kala-azar or black fever is a chronic and potentially fatal parasitic disease of the internal organs, particularly the liver, spleen, bone marrow and lymph nodes.
  • Caused by: It is caused by bites from female phlebotominesandflies – the vector (or transmitter) of the leishmania parasite.
  • Transmission: Leishmaniadonovani is transmitted by sandfly bites in parts of Asia (primarily India), Africa (primarily Sudan), South America (primarily Brazil), Europe (primarily in the Mediterranean region) and in North America.
  • According to WHO, if the disease is not treated, the fatality rate in developing countries can be as high as 100% within 2 years.
  • Symptoms of Kala azar: Fever, loss of appetite (anorexia), fatigue, enlargement of the liver, spleen and nodes and suppression of the bone marrow.
  • Diagnosing Kala azar: The first oral drug found to be effective for treating kala-azar is miltefosine.

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