49 instances of Monkey Fever and 2 fatalities have been reported in Karnataka

By implementing preventative measures and increasing awareness, both residents and tourists visiting Karnataka can minimize the likelihood of contracting monkey fever.

49 Cases Of Monkey Fever, 2 Deaths Reported In Karnataka, Here’s Everything About Kyasanur Forest Disease
49 Cases Of Monkey Fever, 2 Deaths Reported In Karnataka, Here’s Everything About Kyasanur Forest Disease

Two individuals have lost their lives to Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), also known as Monkey Fever, in Karnataka. The first fatality occurred on January 8, involving an 18-year-old girl. Subsequent to these tragic events, the state health department has heightened its vigilance, given that Karnataka has recorded 49 confirmed cases of monkey fever thus far. Health authorities are currently conducting meetings and assessing their readiness to combat the spread of this disease.

Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), colloquially termed monkey fever, is endemic to specific regions, including parts of India. To gain further insight into this ailment, OnlyMyHealth’s team interviewed Dr. Dilip Gude, Senior Consultant Physician at Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad.

Symptoms of Monkey Fever

Monkey fever, a disease transmitted by ticks typically found on monkeys, is a zoonotic illness, meaning it spreads to humans through animal vectors. When infected ticks transfer the KFD virus from monkeys to humans through bites, zoonotic transmission occurs, explained Dr. Gude.

Symptoms of Monkey Fever

The symptoms of monkey fever are diverse. Mild symptoms include fever, body pain, and generalized muscle pain. However, these symptoms can escalate to more severe conditions. Dr. Gude outlined some extreme symptoms of monkey fever:

  • Hemorrhagic manifestations such as nosebleeds and bleeding from the gums.
  • Bleeding in the intestines and gastrointestinal system.
  • Meningitis, which involves inflammation of the protective layers surrounding the brain.

Factors Contributing to Monkey Fever Risk

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), historically, Kyasanur forest disease (KFD), commonly known as monkey fever, has been confined to the western and central districts of Karnataka, India. The CDC highlighted several factors that may heighten an individual’s vulnerability to KFD:

  • Geographical Location: KFD primarily prevails in specific regions, notably the Western Ghats of India. People residing in or visiting these areas are at an elevated risk of exposure.
  • Occupational Exposure: Individuals involved in activities that bring them into close proximity with forested areas, such as forestry workers and farmers, face an increased likelihood of encountering tick bites and KFD transmission.
  • Seasonal Variability: The incidence of KFD typically exhibits seasonal patterns, with higher transmission rates during the dry season, spanning from November through June, when ticks are more active.

Dr. Gude remarked, “Nowadays, there is a shift in trends. We observe monkeys in human settlements, including urban areas. Consequently, the potential for KFD transmission is not confined solely to forests in Southern India.”

Factors Contributing to Monkey Fever Risk

Preventing Monkey Fever (KFD)

“A vaccine has been available since the late 1990s in Karnataka and its forest areas to combat monkey fever. Those highly susceptible to the disease receive this vaccine, administered in two doses spaced one month apart, followed by a booster shot after six to nine months,” explained Dr. Gude. In addition to these measures, other precautions to consider include:

  • Protective Clothing: Wear long-sleeved shirts, trousers, and closed shoes when entering tick-prone areas to reduce skin exposure.
  • Tick Repellents: Apply insect repellents containing DEET to exposed skin to deter tick bites. Clothing treated with permethrin can also be effective.
  • Avoidance of Tick Habitat: Steer clear of tall grasses and bushes, common habitats for ticks. Tucking pants into socks and conducting regular tick checks on the body are advisable preventive measures.

Treatment for Monkey Fever (KFD)

Unfortunately, there is no specific antiviral treatment available for Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), commonly known as monkey fever. “Once you contract monkey fever, treatment primarily focuses on supportive care,” explained Dr. Gude. He outlined various treatment approaches for monkey fever:

  • Hydration: Maintaining adequate hydration is crucial. Patients are encouraged to consume plenty of fluids.
  • Antibiotics: If a secondary bacterial infection develops, antibiotics may be prescribed to address it.
  • Hospitalization: In milder cases, patients typically stay in the hospital for two to three days for observation and supportive care, including hydration.
  • Intensive Care: Severe cases of monkey fever may require intensive care unit (ICU) admission for close monitoring and management.

Understanding the symptoms, risk factors, and preventive measures associated with KFD is essential, particularly for those residing in or visiting endemic regions such as Karnataka, India. By adopting protective measures and promoting awareness, both residents and tourists can mitigate the risk of infection and contribute to the control of this vector-borne disease. If you suspect KFD or experience symptoms, seek prompt medical attention for proper diagnosis and management.