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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2003 Dec;69(6):624-8.

Visceral leishmaniasis: consequences of a neglected disease in a Bangladeshi community.

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Division of Adult and Community Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA.


Visceral leishmaniasis, or kala azar (KA), affects the rural poor, causing significant morbidity and mortality. We examined the epidemiologic, social, and economic impact of KA in a village in Bangladesh. A population-based survey among 2,348 people demonstrated a KA incidence of 2% per year from 2000 to 2002, with a case-fatality rate of 19% among adult women, compared with 6-8% among other demographic groups. Kala azar cases were geographically clustered in certain sections of the village. Anti-leishmanial drug shortages and the high cost of diagnosis and treatment caused substantial emotional and economic hardship for affected families. Communities wanted to learn more about KA, and were willing to take collective action to confront the problems it causes. To decrease the KA burden in endemic areas, community efforts should be supplemented with effective treatment programs to ensure access to appropriate and affordable diagnosis and case management.

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