Uttara Kannada sees 108 monkey fever cases

He attributed the increase in the number of cases to the prolonged dry spell and the rise in the temperature this year.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only.Express

SIDDAPUR (UTTARA KANNADA): Uttara Kannada district has recorded 108 cases of monkey fever or Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) so far this year.

According to the health department, the number of cases started increasing after 2019. The district recorded 50 cases that year. “We have the highest number of cases this year after 2019. We have initiated measures to contain the disease from spreading in the district,” Dr Neeraj, district health officer, said.

Siddapur alone has recorded 100 cases. The remaining eight cases have been detected in Joida, Sirsi and Ankola. Nine people, including two children aged five and nine, have died so far this year. Interestingly, all deaths have been reported from Siddapur taluk. “The children succumbed to the disease because of poor immunity. The others, mostly senior citizens, who succumbed to the disease, lost their immunity due to comorbidities,” Dr Neeraj said. 

Dr Neeraj said the department has intensified testing across the district. Volunteers are looking for dead monkeys in the forests and remote villages. Besides, awareness programmes have been launched in the district.

“Since January 20, we have tested 2,242 blood samples. Of them, 108 tested positive for monkey fever. Blood samples are being sent to the KFD laboratory in Shivamogga. One person died in May and another in April. Seven died in March. The virus will be active till the onset of monsoon,” Dr Neeraj said.

He attributed the increase in the number of cases to the prolonged dry spell and the rise in the temperature this year.

A special campaign has been launched in high-risk areas where volunteers visit houses and educate people about monkey fever and its symptoms. They collect blood samples of people with fever and send them for tests. The volunteers also educate people venturing into the forests to bring minor forest produce. “We provide them DEPA oil to apply before entering the forests,” he said.

In all hospitals across the district, 10 beds have been reserved for KFD patients. Since the vaccine for it has become ineffective, the ICMR has been requested to develop a new one. A KFD testing unit is being set up in Sirsi, he said.

First detected in Kyasanur

The virus is spread by ticks that feed on the monkeys. The virus thrives during summer. It was first detected at Kyasanur in Shivamogga district. The first case in Uttara Kannada district was detected at Korlakai village in Siddapur taluk.

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