What is Kala Azar?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Oct 01, 2012

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  • 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 clinical symptoms are prolonged.
  • Irregular fever may be associated with rigor and chills.

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


The clinical symptoms are prolonged and irregular fever which may or may not be associated with rigor and chills. Among other signs are splenomegaly, lymphadenopathy, hepatomegaly, pancytopenia and progressive anaemia. Some patients may have trouble managing weight.



Kala azar is often confused for malaria, typhoid, and tuberculosis owing to the similar clinical features.  However, there is a chance that one can have many other illnesses along with kala azar as co-infection, and it can complicate things for patients. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of kala azar are challenging due to several reasons.

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 include;
  • 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 source:Gettyimages.in)
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