An outbreak of the most severe form of leishmaniasis has taken the lives of two people and affected 150 others in Wajir North Sub County, Kenya, according to a report in The Star today.

Phlebotomus papatasi sand fly–a vector of leishmaniasis Image/CDC
Phlebotomus papatasi sand fly–a vector of leishmaniasis

The disease, visceral leishmaniasis, also known as kala-azarblack fever, and Dumdum fever is reportedly spreading fast to the neighboring Garissa and Mandera Counties.

The 150 people exhibited classic symptoms of Kala-azar suck as high prolonged fever, swelling of the liver and spleen with massive weight loss, the report notes.

Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease spread by the bite of the female sandfly.

There are different forms of leishmaniasis.

  • Cutaneous leishmaniasis affects the skin and mucous membranes. Skin sores usually start at the site of the sandfly bite. In a few people, sores may develop on mucous membranes.
  • Systemic, or visceral, leishmaniasis affects the entire body. This form occurs 2 – 8 months after a person is bitten by the sandfly. Most people do not remember having a skin sore. This form can lead to deadly complications. The parasites damage the immune system by decreasing the numbers of disease-fighting cells.

Cases of leishmaniasis have been reported on all continents except Australia and Antarctica. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page