Karnataka: Uttara Kannada on alert after 25 infected with monkey fever
Uttara Kannada district health officer said all the 25 infected individuals are out of danger despite not receiving the vaccine
Bengaluru: Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), commonly known as monkey fever, has infected 25 people in Siddapur taluk of Uttara Kannada district in the last 12 days, health department officials said.
“21 people from Siddapur taluk of the district were found infected with Kyasanur Forest Disease until last Saturday, and the number has risen by 4 more, bringing the tally to 25 in the last 12 days,” said Uttara Kannada district health officer Dr BV Niraj.
Dr Niraj said two infected individuals have been admitted to Manipal Hospital in Mangaluru, 8 in the government taluk hospital in Siddapur, and 15 are undergoing treatment at their homes under the medical supervision of the district health department. Despite not receiving the vaccine, the infected are steadily recovering, and Dr Niraj expressed confidence that they may recover within a week.
Referring to the medical staff attending to the infected, he said, “All the 25 infected individuals are out of danger, despite not receiving the vaccine.”
Dr Niraj explained that since most of the infected individuals reside in hamlets within thick forestry, health care staff are regularly attending to them. “Dozens of hamlets in thick forest zones, which lack safe transportation, are being attended to by our field staff to treat the infected,” he said.
According to Siddapur taluk government hospital officials, the vaccine crucial for preventing the infection from reaching a fatal stage is not available in the district and must be obtained from Mysuru. “The life-saving KFD infection vaccine was depleted in the district in 2020. Despite many requests, it has not been supplied,” said a staff member attending to KFD cases.
“People residing in thick forest zones in the state, such as Mysuru, Shivamogga, Belagavi, and Karwar districts, become victims of the temporary infected KFD disease every summer from November to June,” said the staff member, adding that while the disease is not fatal, it has adverse impacts on the future life of the infected person.
“Siddapur, Yallapur, and Dandeli taluks in Uttar Kannada district are rich in thick forest, and the deadly disease mainly strikes from November to May, infecting people of all ages and sexes, Dr Niraj said, advising people to wear clothes that cover their entire body.
Belagavi DHO Mahesh Koni warned that KFD, which breaks out every summer in thick forest areas, may lead to fatalities if infected a second time, causing high blood vomiting. The appropriate hygienic measures must be followed by those infected to prevent further complications. KFD-infected individuals should be treated similarly to those infected with dengue and malaria.
KFD does not spread from human to human but rapidly spreads through fly families that bite humans after biting sick or dead monkeys, Dr Koni explained. Humans bitten by these fly family insects may experience fever, chills, headaches, etc., after being bitten, leading to severe organ failure, kidney failure, hepatitis, and internal bleeding, especially in second-time infections.
Dr. Koni outlined the symptoms of KFD, stating that they typically begin suddenly with chills, fever, and headaches, followed by severe muscle pain, vomiting, gastrointestinal symptoms, and bleeding problems 3-4 days after the initial onset.
Appealing to the infected and their families not to panic, Dr Koni said that there is a 98% chance of survival if medical advice is followed. “Drink plenty of water, maintain hygiene, and change clothes daily without mixing them with others’ clothes for washing,” Dr Koni advised, adding that no isolation is required for infected individuals, but they should avoid contact with society.
Belagavi deputy conservator of forest Kallolikar said that KDF is also usually detected in Khanapur forest area every year, which was not the case this year. About 6 people who were infected with KFD last year have recovered and are doing well. The department, in collaboration with the health department, is closely monitoring the health of people infected in previous years.
The DFO explained that the KFD virus first broke out in the state in Mysuru in 1957 when it was isolated from a sick monkey. Since then, an average of 450 human cases have been reported every year. “Hard ticks (Hemaphysalis spinigera) are the reservoir of the KFD virus and once infected, remain so for life,” he concluded.