New Delhi: Monkey fever is an emerging tick-borne haemorrhagic disease that has claimed lives of 2 people in Karnataka. Also known as Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) it is caused by the Kyasanur Forest Disease Virus (KFDV), a member of the Flavivirus genus.
It spreads to humans through tick bites, primarily in forested regions. Nearly 49 suspected KFD cases have been reported in Karnataka since January 1.
An 18-year-old girl and a 79 old man died due to the disease. Dr Nidhin Mohan, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Narayana Health City, Bengaluru said: KFD is a tick-borne viral disease from a family of Flaviviridae a member of the tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) complex.
“It’s a rare disease and there is no human-to-human spread. It is first discovered in the Kysanur forest in Karnataka state,” he told IANS.
The common symptoms include fever, vision deficit, headache, mental imbalance, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, and a decrease in platelet count, leading to bleeding gums.
The disease is endemic to Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Goa. The virus primarily affects monkeys, particularly langurs.
“Monkeys, which act as hosts, are also susceptible to these illnesses transmitted by hard ticks through their bites,” Dr. Subrata Das, HOD, Internal Medicine and Diabetology, Sakra World Hospital, Bengaluru, told IANS.
“Tick-borne illnesses are prevalent in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, particularly in the Western Ghats, owing to human-animal interaction,” he added.
The doctors advised to wear protective clothing and use EPA-approved repellents when entering wooded areas to prevent bites, and to stay on trails to avoid areas infested with ticks.
After outdoor activities, promptly remove ticks using tweezers and consider vaccination for high-risk areas, with booster shots recommended every few years.
“Recovery typically takes 1-2 weeks, although some individuals may experience biphasic fever in the third week, accompanied by neurological symptoms like brain fogging and tremors,” Das said.
Treatment focuses on managing symptoms due to the absence of a specific cure. Dr. Mohan called for maintaining the hydration (intravenous fluid therapy) to replace the lost fluids and other necessary protective measures are taken to prevent and control hemorrhagic bleeding.
Vaccination offers 60-65 per cent protection with two doses and 80-85 per cent with an additional third dose, effectively reducing complications, said Dr Das.