Kala - Azar (Leishmaniasis)


There are three basic forms in which the disease presents: cutaneous, mucocutaneous and visceral, and 21 species of the genus are known to cause disease in humans.

Symptoms of cutaneous leishmaniasis depend on where the lesions are located and may include:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Skin sores, which may become a skin ulcer that heals very slowly
  • Stuffy nose, runny nose, and nosebleeds
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Ulcers and wearing away (erosion) in the mouth, tongue, gums, lips, nose, and inner nose

Symptoms of Systemic visceral include:

  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Enlarged spleen and liver
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Decreased production of Red Blood Cells(RBC)

Symptoms of Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis (MCL) include:

  • Inflammation and mutilation of the nose, mouth, oropharynx, and trachea.
  • Respiratory difficulties and malnutrition
Tests to diagnose: 

A physical exam may show signs of an enlarged spleen, liver, and lymph nodes.

Tests that may be done to diagnose the condition include:

  • Biopsy of the spleen and bone marrow
  • Antibody test
  • Liver and lymph node biopsy
  • Skin biopsy
  • Complete blood count
  • Serologic testing

Medicines called antimony-containing compounds are the main drugs used to treat leishmaniasis. These include:

  • Meglumine antimoniate
  • Sodium stibogluconate

Other drugs that may be used include:

  • Amphotericin B
  • Ketoconazole
  • Miltefosine
  • Paromomycin
  • Pentamidine

Plastic surgery may be needed to correct the disfigurement caused by sores on the face (cutaneous leishmaniasis). Patients with drug-resistant viral leishmaniasis may need to have their spleen removed (splenectomy).

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