A doctor from Patna has won the Young Scientist Award by the Government of India for studying the spread of kala-azar in the state and how to prevent it.
Sushmita Das, the acting head of the microbiology department at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, was informed about the award through a letter on Monday.
“The award is in the form of a research grant. I shall get Rs 23 lakh as research aid from the science and technology department of the Government of India within the next few months,” said the doctor, who has published 16 research papers, 14 of which are on kala-azar.
Sushmita added: “I am excited because this will help me carry out in-depth research.”
The doctor said kala-azar was a severe problem in Bihar. “Almost 90 per cent of the kala-azar cases in the country are reported from Bihar. Few cases are reported from Bengal, Jharkhand or Uttar Pradesh. Most of the kala-azar cases in Bihar are reported from the Gangetic plains in the north of the state.”
Sushmita added: “In my research, I shall highlight the causes of kala-azar. At present, we know of only one reason for the disease in the state — it is believed that the soil and vegetation here attracts sand flies that spread the kala-azar parasite.”
Visceral leishmaniasis, also known as kala-azar, black fever or Dumdum fever, is caused by protozoan parasites, and is estimated to be the largest parasitic killer in the world after malaria. It usually affects the bone marrow, liver and spleen.
“I shall try to find out more drugs that can be helpful for kala-azar patients,” she said.