Karnataka’s Tirthahalli taluk has come under the grip of Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), also known as monkey fever. So far, five positive cases, including one death, have been reported in humans. Moreover, deaths of 5 monkeys were reported in the forest of Ghantejanagallu near Suruvinakoppa village. In 2016-17, four persons died of KFD in Tirthahalli and 48 positive cases were reported.
Kyasanur forest disease or monkey fever is tick-borne viral diseases caused by Kyasanur forest disease virus (KFDV), a member of the virus family Flaviviridae, which also causes dengue and yellow fever. It is endemic to South Asia and was first detected in 1957 in Kyasanur Forest of Karnataka.
Monkey fever is so named because it primarily affects black-faced langurs and red-faced bonnet monkeysand result in their death. KFD causes seasonal outbreaks between December and May along Western Ghats mostly striking farmers in Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
Transmission: The vector responsible for its transmission is ticks (Hemaphysalis spinigera). These ticks are known to thrive in the Western Ghats and transmit the disease to humans. Humans contract KFD infection from the bite of nymphs of the tick.
Symptoms: High fever with headache, followed by haemorrhagic symptoms such as bleeding from nose, throat and gums. It also causes gastrointestinal bleeding, muscle stiffness, tremors, absent reflexes and mental disturbances.
Prevention: Its spread can be prevented through vaccination. Moreover, additional preventative measures include using insect repellents and wearing protective clothes in areas where ticks are endemic.