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What are the causes of kala azar

What are the causes of kala azar
Quick Bites
  • Kala azar is a fatal infection that is caused by a parasite.
  • The common symptom is irregular fever associated with rigor and chills.
  • Most  drugs for kala azar treatment are given parenterally.
  • Use of a drugs can also cause development of resistance.

Kala-azar is a fatal infection that is caused by a parasite. It is spread from one person to other by bite of an insect. The symptoms of kala azar can be varied such as asymptomatic or subclinical infection in some people an acute or chronic clinical course.


kala azar


Kala azar or Visceral Leishmaniasis is a fatal infection caused by the parasitic protozoa Leishmania donovani. It is transmitted from one person to other by the bite of infected female sand fly, Phlebotomus argentipes. The sandfly get infected with the parasite while feeding on the blood of an infected person, and spread infection to other individuals they bite.



The symptoms of kala azar are irregular fever that is associated with rigor and chills. Among other signs are splenomegaly, lymphadenopathy, hepatomegaly, pancytopenia and progressive anaemia. Some patients may have trouble managing weight.



Definitive diagnosis requires tissue specimens, which are often associated with complications and can be difficult to obtain. Tissue that are sampled most often to diagnose kala-azar include bone marrow, spleen and, at times lymphnodes. The parasite is demonstrated in these tissue samples by microscopy or isolation of the parasite by culture.



There are limited treatment options for kala azar. Besides this most of the drugs have far from satisfactory results. Drugs commonly used in the treatment of kala-azar are as follows.

  • Pentavalent antimonials compounds (Sbv)
  • Pentamidine,
  • Amphotericin B and Lipid formulation of amphotericin B,
  • Miltefosine,
  • Paromomycin,
  • Sitamaquine


Most of the drugs used for treatment of kala-azar have to be given parenterally (in the vein) except miltefosine, and are potentially toxic. In the treatment of kala azar it is very important to use the drugs judiciously as indiscriminate use of a drug can cause development of resistance among parasite /pathogens.

(Image: Getty)

Read more articles on Kala Azar.


Written by
Editorial Team
Source: Onlymyhealth editorial teamOct 01, 2012

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