After swine flu, monkey fever grips Maharashtra, 11 dead; don’t ignore that fever and headache

The fever is mainly restricted in only two talukas in Maharashtra where humans visit the forest area for their livelihood, and get infected through tick bites.

mumbai Updated: May 17, 2017 11:43 IST
Sadaguru Pandit
Sadaguru Pandit
Hindustan Times
Swine flu,Monkey fever,Maharashtra health

After swine flu, another zoonotic disease (one that can be transmitted from animals to people) called monkey fever has caused more than 11 deaths and left 200 people in a critical medical condition in the state. Officials from Sindhudurg district, where Kyasanur Forest disease (KFD) — a tick-borne viral haemorrhagic fever that is endemic — have demanded an expert committee from Delhi to recommend better solutions for treatment and care.

Identified in the Kyasanur forest of Karnataka, the fever spreads primarily through monkeys to humans by the bite of an infected tick and through contact with a sick or dead monkey. “The monkeys, migrating from Karnataka, are carrying the infected ticks in the border districts of Goa and Maharashtra,” said Vinayak Raut, Member of Parliament from Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri region.

Officials from Sawantwadi Forest division said they have found and disposed of 232 dead monkeys in their jurisdiction since December 2016 to first week of May to restrict the spread. “We sent a few of the bodies for post-mortem, but we aren’t sure if all of them were infected. We have sent the viscera of monkeys to the Pune Forensic Laboratory for final investigation,” said Samadhan Chavan, deputy conservator of forest, Sindhudurg.

Read more: What is monkey fever?

The fever is mainly restricted in only two talukas, Dodamarg and Sawantwadi, where humans visit the forest area for their livelihood, and get infected through tick bites.

Dr Tushar Chiplunkar, deputy DHO from Dodamarg, said the first patient was reported in Maharashtra last year. “The patient was from Sateli Bhedshi village of Dodamarg Taluka. He was diagnosed and treated in Goa Civil Hospital, whose officials also informed us about the presence of the virus in the state,” said Chiplunkar.

He said this year, the toll has increased to 11. Also, the number of those infected in the state has risen to 187 compared to 128 last year. “Last year, we had sent the samples to the National Institute of Virology, but this year we are coordinating with the Manipal University of Virology in Karnataka because they had originally diagnosed the virus and have studied it in detail,” said Chiplunkar.

Treating doctors said the primary symptoms are headache, weakness, fever, vomiting and loose motions. However, as the first phase of fever subsides, the second one, which takes place after 15-20 days, affects the central nervous system, reduces the count of red and white blood cells and platelets. KFD has a reported mortality rate of 10-15% with faster disease progression in patients with co-morbid conditions and low immunity.

“A major source of income for people is selling mangoes, cashewnuts, coconuts and Jamun. However, due to increasing human-animal proximity, chances of spreading the disease and cases are also increasing rapidly,” said Dr Yogesh Sale, DHO, Sindhudurg.

Raut said he had raised the issue in the parliament and availed permissions to set up blood testing laboratories in the district for immediate diagnosis of the fever.

Read more: Monkey fever infects 76, kills one in Goa

First Published: May 17, 2017 11:43 IST