The National Centre for Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme (NVBDCP) of the Union Health Ministry reports 33 deaths due to visceral leishmaniasis (VL), or kala-azar in November, the most reported in seven years.
The deaths suggest that the infection is not being treated on time. Health experts say that if left untreated, visceral leishmaniasis, which is otherwise a curable disease, can be fatal in over 95% of cases.
Leishmaniasis is endemic in India. Visceral leishmaniasis is the most serious form of leishmaniasis (a parasitic disease), which affects some of the internal organs of the body (such as the spleen, liver, and bone marrow).
VL is predominantly transmitted through the bite of an infected female phlebotomine sand fly, although congenital and parenteral transmission (through blood transfusions and needle sharing) have been reported.
Among parasites, it is the second biggest killer in the world after malaria. Each (Plasmodium and Leishmania) is responsible for an estimated half a million deaths worldwide each year
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