Monkey Fever Outbreak has Health Official on Their Toes
Monkey fever, a viral disease characterised by headache and haemorrhage, is sweeping through parts of Shimoga, Chikmagalur and Dakshina Kannada districts.
Also called the Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), it spreads through the bite of a forest tick which carries the disease-causing virus from monkeys and other hosts to humans. The Health Department has already recorded 74 cases of monkey fever, and has stepped up efforts to identify the affected, and take preventive measures in Thirthahalli and Hosanagar taluks of Shimoga and other affected districts.
The department has deputed a mobile unit with a doctor and two nurses to create awareness among people about the disease. According to officials, they have covered 98 per cent of the houses in the targeted area in Shimoga and given 4,500 bottles of medicated oil to families who visit forests. Deputy Commissioner Vipul Bansal said the first case was reported from Kannangi in Thirthahalli. “As per protocol, people living in targeted areas close to the forest are vaccinated for five years in a particular season. After the incident, all have been vaccinated,” said Bansal. He said that after a case of monkey fever was reported four months back, blood samples were taken from patients and sent for testing. After confirmation, a house-to-house survey was taken up. People have also been urged to notify authorities if they spot a dead monkey. “Dead monkeys have to be buried 5 km away from the village and all people in the area have to be vaccinated,” he said. District Health Officer Rajesh Suragihalli said the disease does not have any specific treatment. As in other types of fever, treatment aims at bringing down body temperature, said Suragihalli. If the immune system is strong, the disease does not cause any damage, but if it resurfaces within a few weeks, it is dangerous, he said.
The DHO said healthcare workers have been directed to conduct house-to-house surveys and educate families on the disease.