Monkey Fever Claims Two Lives In Karnataka: Causes, Symptoms And Prevention
Symptoms of monkey fever typically manifest 3 to 8 days after the tick bite. (Image: Shutterstock)
The disease originated in the dense forests of Karnataka in 1957 and has since posed a significant public health challenge in various parts of South Asia.
Two individuals have lost their lives to the deadly Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), commonly known as monkey fever, in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. The news, reported by the Press Trust of India (PTI) and confirmed by state health officials, has sparked concerns over the spread of this viral infection and prompted authorities to take urgent measures.
According to PTI, the first casualty was an 18-year-old girl whose identity remains undisclosed. She became the initial victim of the disease, succumbing to its effects. The second fatality occurred in Udupi district, where a 79-year-old man from Sringeri taluk in Chikkamagaluru breathed his last in a private hospital. The person’s identity has also remained undisclosed.
The gravity of the situation is underscored by the rising number of reported cases across the state. Approximately 50 positive cases of monkey fever have been documented so far, with the majority concentrated in Uttara Kannada district, followed by Shivamogga and Chikkamagaluru districts. These alarming figures have prompted health authorities to convene meetings and assess the readiness to combat the spread of the disease effectively.
Understanding Monkey Fever: Causes and Symptoms
Kyasanur Forest Disease, scientifically termed KFD, is a viral illness caused by the Kyasanur Forest Disease virus (KFDV). The virus belongs to the Flaviviridae family and is primarily transmitted through tick bites. The disease originated in the dense forests of Karnataka in 1957 and has since posed a significant public health challenge in various parts of South Asia.
Transmission occurs when ticks, particularly the Haemaphysalis spinigera species, feed on the blood of infected animals, mainly non-human primates like monkeys, serving as reservoir hosts. Humans are susceptible to infection during outdoor activities in forested areas where infected ticks are prevalent.
Symptoms of monkey fever typically manifest 3 to 8 days after the tick bite and may include high fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, and gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, according to the Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute. In severe cases, the disease can progress to complications like encephalitis, hepatitis and multi-organ failure, posing grave risks to affected individuals.
Prevention and Treatment Strategies
Preventing KFD hinges on implementing effective measures to avoid tick bites and minimize exposure to infected animals. Strategies include using insect repellents containing DEET, wearing protective clothing, avoiding tick habitats, and performing regular tick checks after outdoor activities.
Unfortunately, there is no specific antiviral treatment for monkey fever. Management primarily involves symptom alleviation, supportive care and close monitoring for complications. In severe cases, hospitalisation may be necessary for intensive therapy and observation.