By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

Health officials in Tharaka Nithi County in central Kenya are reporting an outbreak of  kala-azar, or visceral leishmaniasis (VL).

Phlebotomus papatasi sand fly/James Gathany

Over the last few months, 33 cases and 5 deaths have been reported, prompting officials to issue an alert over the vector-borne disease.

In Kenya since January 2020, a total of 1 170 visceral leishmaniasis confirmed cases with 10 deaths (CFR 0.9% percent), have been reported in eight counties namely: Marsabit, Garissa, Kitui, Baringo, West Pokot, Mandera, Wajir, and Tharaka Nithi.

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).

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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