Leishmaniasis – Nepal

Regions of Okhaldhunga, Kalikot, and Myagdi in Nepal have reported an outbreak of Kala-azar and Dengue.

Kala-azar, also known as visceral leishmaniasis or black fever, is transmitted through the bite of the infected female phlebotomine sandfly. Common symptoms of kala-azar are weight loss, weakness, cough, and fever that last from a few weeks to months.

The major reason for concern has been reported due to the spread of the disease in the places non-endemic to kala-azar as the female phlebotomine sand flies cannot survive above 650 meters. The current reports of infection are reported from the areas which are at 1,400 meters as well.

Dengue transmitted by female anopheles mosquito is also on the increase due to transportation and crowd gathering as restrictions were lifted. There are no reports on the death, however, the diseases are present on an average of 65-68 districts and their symptoms overlap with Covid-19 infections.

The government has alerted the health authorities to improve better testing strategies for those who are covid negative as well for such vector-borne diseases.

Photo: Leishmania tropica, one of more than 15 species.

Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by parasites and spread by the bite of a certain sandfly. The cutaneous form presents with skin ulcers. Risk factors include poverty, malnutrition, deforestation, and urbanization. Leishmaniasis can be partly prevented by sleeping under nets treated with insecticide and fumigation.

Leishmaniasis occurs in some 98 countries and affects about 2 million people yearly, and causes between 20 and 50 thousand deaths.

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