Karnataka on alert as ‘Monkey Fever’ claims two lives and infects 49 others

Kyasanur Forest Disease

Bengaluru: A viral infection known as ‘Monkey Fever’ or Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) has caused two deaths and 49 confirmed cases in Karnataka since the beginning of this year, prompting the health department to take preventive measures and review the situation.

The first fatality was an 18-year-old girl from Hosanagar taluk of Shivamogga district, who succumbed to the disease on January 8. The second victim was a 79-year-old man from Sringeri taluk of Chikkamangaluru district, who died in a private hospital in Manipal in Udupi district.

According to the health department, most of the cases have been reported from Uttara Kannada district, where 34 people have tested positive for KFD. Shivamogga district has recorded 12 cases, while Chikkamangaluru district has reported three cases.

KFD is a tick-borne viral hemorrhagic fever endemic to the southwestern part of India. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected hard ticks (Haemaphysalis spinigera) or contact with sick or dead infected monkeys. The symptoms include high fever, severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding from the nose, throat, gums, and intestine. In some cases, neurological complications such as tremors, mental disturbances, and vision deficits may occur. The disease can be fatal if not treated promptly.

Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Commissioner D. Randeep visited Shivamogga district on Saturday and held meetings with health officials of Uttara Kannada, Shivamogga, and Chikkamagaluru districts. He said that the state health department has collected a total of 2,288 samples from the affected districts since January 1 this year, out of which 48 cases have been confirmed by laboratory tests. He also said that the department has taken steps to prevent the spread of the disease, such as vaccinating high-risk groups, conducting surveillance and awareness campaigns, and providing medical facilities and supplies.

Kyasanur Forest Disease

The health department has advised the public to avoid contact with monkeys and rodents, wear protective clothing and gloves while handling animals or their bedding, and seek medical attention if they develop any symptoms of KFD. The department has also issued a helpline number (080-22210248) for any queries or assistance related to the disease.