Intensely clustered outbreak of visceral leishmaniasis (kala-azar) in a setting of seasonal migration in a village of Bihar, India

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Background: A visceral leishmaniasis outbreak was reported from a village in a low-endemic district of Bihar, India. Methods: Outbreak investigation with house-to-house search and rapid test of kala-azar suspects and contacts was carried out. Sandfly collection and cone bio-assay was done as part of entomological study. Results: A spatially and temporally clustered kala-azar outbreak was found at Kosra village in Sheikhpura district with 70 cases reported till December 2018. Delay of more than a year was found between diagnosis and treatment of the index case. The southern hamlet with socio-economically disadvantaged migrant population was several times more affected than rest of the village (attack rate of 19.0% vs 0.5% respectively, ORMH = 39.2, 95% CI 18.2-84.4). The median durations between onset of fever to first contact with any health services, onset to kala-azar diagnosis, diagnosis to treatment were 10 days (IQR 4-18), 30 days (IQR 17-73) and 1 day (IQR 0.5 to 3), respectively, for 50 kala-azar cases assessed till June 2017. Three-fourths of these kala-azar cases had out-of-pocket medical expenditure for their condition. Known risk factors for kala-azar such as illiteracy, poverty, belonging to socially disadvantaged community, migration, residing in kutcha houses, sleeping in rooms with unplastered walls and non-use of mosquito nets were present in majority of these cases. Only half the dwellings of the kala-azar cases were fully sprayed. Fully gravid female P. argentipes collected post indoor residual spraying (IRS) and low sandfly mortality on cone-bioassay indicated poor effectiveness of vector control. Conclusions: There is need to focus on low-endemic areas of kala-azar. The elimination programme should implement a routine framework for kala-azar outbreak response. Complete case-finding, use of quality-compliant insecticide and coverage of all sprayable surfaces in IRS could help interrupt transmission during outbreaks.




Kumar, A., Saurabh, S., Jamil, S., & Kumar, V. (2020). Intensely clustered outbreak of visceral leishmaniasis (kala-azar) in a setting of seasonal migration in a village of Bihar, India. BMC Infectious Diseases, 20(1).

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