Black fever

    • Brief

    • Visceral Leishmaniasis, also known as black fever or kala-azar, is caused by parasites. You can get infected when you are bitten by the female sandfly, a tiny insect that lives in warm places with poor sanitation.

      Symptoms of this disease may not show immediately after the bite. It may take weeks or even months after infection for symptoms to appear. Black fever causes the skin of the infected individual to become darker, hence the name.

      This infection usually affects organs like the liver and spleen. Although some people may not show symptoms, fever and weight loss are common. It often affects poor people with poor environmental sanitation. If left untreated, black fever is almost always deadly.

    • What are the symptoms?

      • Sudden weight loss of up to 3kg or more in an adult.
      • Feeling excessively weak, tired and sleepy.
      • You may have a high fever that lasts for weeks or months.
      • Some parts of your body, like the stomach, may become swollen.
      • The infection may reduce your body's ability to produce blood.
    • What are the causes?

    • Black fever is caused by a parasite that is passed on to humans through the bit of a female sandfly. There are many types of leishmania parasites and many kinds of sandflies that can cause the infection.

    • What are the things that put you at risk?

    • The female sand fly is responsible for the transmission of this disease. Some practices and conditions may help increase the population of this insect, thereby increasing the risk of infection. They include:

      • Poverty increases the risk for leishmaniasis. Poor housing and sanitary conditions (such as open sewers) may increase sandfly breeding sites.
      • Sandflies are attracted to crowded houses that provide a good source of blood.
      • Sleeping outside or on the ground, may also increase your risk of the disease.
      • Eating a diet that lacks protein, iron, vitamin A and zinc increase the risk that an infection will progress more quickly.
      • Infections that affect your immune system like HIV/AIDS may also put you at increased risk.
    • When to visit a doctor?

    • You need to see your healthcare provider if you experience any of the following:

      • Severe loss of weight and weakness.
      • High fever and night sweats.
      • General body weakness that disturbs your daily activities.
    • How to prevent?

    • It is very difficult to prevent black fever, because it requires a combination of keeping your surroundings free of breeding grounds for sandflies (e.g. waste, open sewers), wearing clothes that cover your skin, and using insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent sandfly bites. There is currently no vaccine that prevents the infection.

    • How to manage and treat?

    • Self-care tips:

      • Ensure that you wear long clothes covering a large part of your skin if you are in a high-risk area.
      • Apply insect repellant and use insecticide-treated nets. This will protect you from insect bites.
      • Spray your room(s) and the environment with residual insecticide spray.

      Treatment options:

      Treatment of black fever depends on how serious your healthcare provider thinks your condition is:

      • Your healthcare provider may give you medications to reduce your fever.
      • You may also be given vitamins and other supplements to boost your immune system and help you regain the lost weight.
      • You may require a blood transfusion if you have a dangerously low blood levels.
    • Kulawa cares

    • Black fever is not easy to prevent, but early detection, diagnosis and treatment are essential to minimize complications and prevent death from the disease.