Leishmaniasis is caused by over 20 different leishmania species and is transmitted to humans by sandflies. There are three main types of the disease: Visceral, cutaneous and mucocutaneous leishmaniasis. Visceral leishmaniasis (VL also known as kala-azar) is fatal if left untreated.
Visceral leishmaniasis is characterized by irregular bouts of fever, weight loss, enlargement of the spleen and liver, and anaemia. It is highly endemic in the Indian subcontinent and in East Africa. An estimated 200 000 to 400 000 new cases of VL occur worldwide each year. Over 90% of new cases occur in six countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, South Sudan, and Sudan.