BENGALURU: The dreaded ‘Kyasanur Forest Disease’ or ‘Monkey Fever’, claimed its latest victim from Seegemakki village in Tumari gram Panchayat limits of Sagar taluk last Saturday. Last year, 14 people died and 441 were diagnosed positive for the disease. While the disease has not been fully contained, a two-member committee’s survey report, submitted in March 2019, with recommendations on preventing recurrence of KFD and strategies to control its spread seems to have been ignored at the ground level.
“We have followed the recommendations thoroughly. But the problem seems to be the attitude of people — they do not come forward to take vaccinations despite informing them about the complications and importance of prevention,” said District Health Officer Rajesh Suragihalli. The committee included M Madan Gopal, Former Additional Chief Secretary, and Dr Shivakumar Veeraiah, former dean of Mandya Instiute of Medical Sciences.
The committee studied the gaps in control of KFD outbreak, containing its spread and proper management of patients. The recommendations included ensuring prevention of recurrence and strategies to control the spread of KFD. The committee also found that though there was a standard operating procedure, there was inadequate preparedness in endemic areas and weak surveillance in the newer areas adjacent to endemic areas. The committee had noted that people were not aware of when they need to approach a doctor.
However, doctors on field argued that despite creating door-to-door awareness many of them still used herbal medicines and visited them only later. “If the recommendations in the report are followed, then we can definitely prevent the outbreak. Hopefully, the numbers will be less. There were many gaps which have been pointed out and people should cooperate with the officers too,” said M Madan Gopal, former additional chief secretary. However, the DHO argues that it was not so this time. Everything — from procurement of vaccines to oil and protective gear for the field staff — was done well in advance, he claimed. “We even increased vigilance in the areas which are vulnerable, particularly the villages situated in the midst of the forest and also those which are adjacent to the forest areas.
Till December 31, there was not a single case which tested positive out of the 700-odd samples tested,” he said. However, in just a span of seven days starting January 1, seven out of 240-odd have come back positive. This has caused a scare in the area, and families have moved to houses of their relatives in other cities. However, the officers blamed people for not taking the threat seriously and skipping vaccinations. “We started vaccinations way back in June. While some come for the first dose, there are many who don’t take the second and third doses, making them vulnerable,” Rajesh pointed out. He cited the example of the woman who died on Saturday and said while her children and grandchildren had taken all three doses of the vaccination, she had not taken even a single one.