What is Kala-Azar/Leishmaniasis?
Kala-azar is also known as black fever. It is a slow-progressing congenital disease caused by Leishmania donovani of the genus Leishmania, a protozoan parasite. This parasite primarily affects the reticuloendothelial system and can be abundantly located in the bone marrow, spleen, and liver. Leishmania donovani is spread by bites of the infected female sandflies.
Kala-azar is considered the world’s second-largest parasitic killer after. If left untreated or without its proper diagnosis and treatment, it leads to death.
What are the Symptoms of kala-azar?
At first, Leishmania parasites cause skin lesions or ulcers in place of sandfly bites. Later, if the disease progresses, it attacks the immune system. After two to eight months, Kala Azar presents with more common symptoms, including prolonged fever and weakness.
Other symptoms of kala-azar
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss with progressive anorexia
- Dry, thin, and scaly skin
- Hair loss
- Grayish discoloration of the skin of hands, feet, abdomen, and face.
- Excessive enlargement spleen (Splenomegaly) normally soft and non-tender.
- Enlargement of the liver
What is the cause of kala-azar and how it is transmitted?
Kala-azar is a vector-borne disease, it is caused by the Leishmania and female Sandfly of the genus Phlebotomus argentipes act as a vector of the leishmania parasite.
So, Kala-azar is transmitted to humans by the bites of Sandfly. The sandflies need animals and human blood to develop their eggs. When female sandflies bite the infected human host then she picks up the parasite and when the next person receives a bite from that sandfly he becomes infected and develops leishmaniasis.
The disease may develop into a more severe form months after this initial infection and this severe condition is known as visceral leishmaniasis or, kala-azar.
How Kala-azar is diagnosed?
- It can be diagnosed symptomatically when the fever for more than two weeks does not respond to medications such as antimalarial and antibiotics.
- There are also many laboratory tests to diagnose Kala-azar such as
1. Serology Tests
It includes the Direct Agglutination Test (DAT), RK39 Dipstick, and ELISA.
2. Parasite Demonstration
In spleen/lymph node aspiration/ bone marrow or the culture medium.
What is the Natural Treatment for Kala-azar?
Various herbs are very effective in the treatment of Kala-Azar. These herbs treat this disease naturally without any side effects.Fherba;
It includes: –
Giloy is a very effective natural herb that is used in various health problems. It is very helpful in promoting the immune system and the body’s defense mechanisms against infected organisms. It has antibiotic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic properties and helps in the treatment of Kala-Azar. Generally, Giloy stems impart these properties and reduce weakness, indigestion, fever, and many urinary tract infections. Its anti-periodic property prevents the recurrence of symptoms of a disease and antispasmodic properties prevent infectious diseases such as dengue, kala-azar, and malaria. You can make a decoction of Giloy stem and Neem peel, it is very effective for fever. You can also make a decoction of Giloy stem with basil leaves.
Neem holds various important properties such as antibacterial, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimalarial, anti-microbial antiseptic, and anti-viral properties which make it effective for the treatment of various diseases. Each part of the neem tree, leaves, twigs, bark, seeds, roots, fruits, or flowers are used for healing. Neem is used to treat fever infections, inflammation, dermatitis, and dental disorders. So, due to all the properties present in neem, which is known as an effective natural remedy for Kala-Azar.
Manjistha has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, antispasmodic, and antioxidant properties. It helps to promote immunity and increases the white blood cells of the immune system. It increases the strength of the body to fight against various infections and diseases. It makes it useful in the treatment of Kala-azar. Manjistha also acts as a blood purifier and eliminates toxins from the body. It is also very effective in many skin disorders like eczema, allergies, acne, and psoriasis.
Spirulina possesses many properties like anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. The antiviral property of spirulina helps to inhibit the uptake, diffusion, and multiplication of virus in the body. It helps to boost the immune system and increase body strength to fight against pathogenic organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and other parasites. Thus spirulina is effective for the treatment of kala-azar. The anti-inflammatory property of spirulina helps to reduce the inflammation and also provides relieves from chronic pain. It also improves eyesight, stamina, hemoglobin, and prevents early aging and graying of hair.
What are the preventive measures for Kala-azar?
As we all know, “Prevention is better than cure”. So, to avoid the spreading of any diseases, infection, it is better to follow preventive measures. For Kala-azar the most effective way to prevent infection is to protect yourself from bites of the sandfly.
The following prevention has been suggested to reduce the risk of being bitten:
- Reduce excess exposure of the skin, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, tie your shirt to your pants, and wear socks.
- Generally, sand flies are more active especially from dusk to dawn, so avoid outdoor activities.
- Always apply insect repellent to exposed skin and try to use herbal insect repellent because it is also good for children.
- Stay in well-screened or air-conditioned places
- Always spray insecticide in your home especially in living or sleeping areas to kill insects.
- Use a bed net and tuck it under your mattress while sleeping.
- You can also soak bed net in or sprayed with a pyrethroid-containing insecticide to take extra prevention from insects. You can also use the same method for screens, curtains, sheets.