Experts alert mass on black fever’s possible widespread

  • Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), commonly known as kala-azar or black fever, has been inflicting people around the world particularly India and Bangladesh following alerts on its possible widespread, as warned by experts
  • Black fever, also called the “the poor man’s disease”, can be transmitted or contracted by adult sand flies that bite on cattle whose larvae feed on their feces
  • The disease causes fevers, weight loss, anemia and might eventually lead to various organ failures
  • The black fever was reported to have 400,000 cases every year and kills as many as 30,000

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), commonly known as kala-azar or black fever, has been inflicting people around the world particularly India and Bangladesh following alerts on its possible widespread, as warned by experts.

According to Director of Field Research David Poche of the Genesis Laboratories, “The black fever remains on the World Health Organization’s list of neglected tropical diseases, because it affects “the poorest of the poor.”

He also added that the disease is spreading following reports on new VL cases in which almost 90 percent of them occurred in India, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan.

Black fever, also called the “the poor man’s disease”, is a parasitic disease that can be transmitted or contracted by adult sand flies that bite on cattle whose larvae feed on their feces.

The disease causes fevers, weight loss, anemia and might eventually lead to various organ failures.

“VL and other forms of leishmaniasis are ‘subtle diseases’ that kill untreated individuals slowly, sometimes over the course of years, so there’s “not a perception of urgency” among infected individuals and the medical community,” said Mark Wiser, a professor in Tulane University’s department of tropical medicine.

With the disease’s widespread, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a drug to treat VL called miltefosine, and is available at little or no cost in India- specifically Bihar, which has a vast majority of that country’s VL cases, Wiser added.

However, Bihar, which is one of the poorest areas in India, will have difficulty on getting access with an “affordable testing”.

Since the black fever was declared endemic in 54 districts across four Indian States, Bihar, being the epicenter of VL in South Asia, was the most affected.

“Transportation is an additional barrier, as is the fact that drugs like miltefosine have to be taken for 45 to 60 days,” said Rajesh Garlapati, senior vector ecologist at Genesis Labs.

In addition to Garlapati’s statement, Wiser added that, “Estimating the growth of VL and other forms of leishmaniasis is challenging because of its slow progression and its rapid appearance in specific locations. Although mortality has decreased in some areas, recent conflicts in the Middle East and an increase in Syrian refugees caused spikes elsewhere”

The black fever was reported to have 400,000 cases every year and kills as many as 30,000.

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