Karnataka: Monkey Fever Kills 6; Expert Panel To Probe Reason For Its Spread
Since December 2018 at least six people have died while 18 others have tested positive for Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) or Monkey Fever in Shivamogga Aralagodu Gram Panchayat in Karnataka.
Monkey Fever Kills Six
Reportedly, the Karnataka state government has decided to form an expert committee to look into the cause of the spread of the disease. The Minister for Health and Family Welfare Shivananda Patil on January 6 said that the government will also submit recommendations on how to strengthen the infrastructure in the Malnad region, reported The Hindu.
However, locals have raised questions against the department’s efforts after it was found that the department failed to follow the vaccination protocol when it found evidence of an outbreak in January 2018, reported The News Minute.
Patil said, “It has come to my notice that there have been lapses committed by the Health Department.” The expert committee will include a retired dean of a medical college, a retired IAS officer, and a retired judge. He added that the focus is once again on restricting the spread of the disease.
What is KFD?
KFD or monkey fever is a vector-borne disease which is endemic to Karnataka. It is caused by Kyasanur Forest disease virus (KFDV) and was identified in the forest area in 1957. Humans can contract the disease upon being bitten by infected ticks or if they come in contact with a sick or recently dead monkey. This is reappearing disease does not have a specific treatment and early medical care and supportive therapy is important, reported Times Now.
The symptoms start with chills, fever, frontal headache, and vomiting among others. In most cases, patients can recover within one to two weeks and the estimated fatality rate is from 2% to 10%, according to the National Health Portal.
Since 1990, residents living within a five km radius of a suspected KFD case receives the vaccine. In 2014, the radius was increased to 10 km after researchers found ticks for the virus at a distance of 8 km and 10 km from a suspected case of KFD outbreak.
Proper vaccination allegedly not given
Dr Ravi Kumar, Deputy Director, Virus Diagnostic Laboratory told The News Minute that it is hard to tell where the disease will show up next since it does not occur in the same place every year. However, in 2018, after an outbreak, only residents living within a five km radius from the location received the vaccination. If the residents after 5km were to receive the vaccination then, the latest outbreak in Aralagodu might have been restricted or even eliminated.
Reportedly, the first case came to light on November 24, 2018, after which the health department officials have taken stringent measure to stop the number of fatalities and even spread of the disease. The health minister has said blood samples of the people diagnosed with KFD are being sent to National Institute of Virology, Pune. He also said that he would talk to the chief minister regarding the compensation to the family of the deceased while the team is going to probe the alleged lapse in taking adequate preventive measures.