Kala azar is one of the world’s most deadly tropical diseases. It’s caused by a parasite carried by infected female sand flies.
The parasite is passed to people when they are bitten by infected flies, and attacks the immune system. Left untreated the disease is almost always fatal.
More research is required into diagnosis and treatment options for kala azar, which is also known as ‘visceral leishmaniasis’. Current diagnostic tests are invasive and require lab facilities that aren’t always available in resource-poor areas where the disease is most common. The most common drug treatment is effective but quite toxic, presenting a risk to patients.