Volume 90, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Kala-azar or visceral leishmaniasis, found mostly throughout the Indian Subcontinent, East Africa, and Brazil, kills 20,000–40,000 persons annually. The agents, and , are obligatory intracellular protozoa of mononuclear phagocytes found principally in the spleen and bone marrow. Protracted fever, anemia, wasting, hepatosplenomegaly, hemorrhages, and bacterial co-infections are typical features. One hundred and twenty-two (122) in-hospital patients were studied to verify if higher bone marrow parasite load estimated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction is associated with severe disease. The estimated median parasite load was 5.0 parasites/10 human nucleated cells. It is much higher in deceased than among survivors (median 75.0 versus 4.2). Patients who lost more weight had a higher parasite burden, as well as patients with epistaxis, abdominal pain, edema, and jaundice. This study suggests that higher parasite load is influenced by wasting, which may lead to more severe disease.


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  • Received : 25 Jun 2013
  • Accepted : 26 Dec 2013
  • Published online : 02 Apr 2014

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