The emerging viral disease Monkey Fever strikes Kerala again

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine 1 Comment

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New Delhi, 24 January 2019: A case of Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), a viral disease transmitted to humans through a species of ticks usually found on monkeys, has been reported from the Aranappara hamlet at Appapara, near Tirunelly, in Wayanad district. This comes after an interval of two years. The first case of the disease was reported in the district in 2013. The virus wreaked havoc in the district in 2015 when 102 cases were reported, and 11 people died of the disease. Nine cases were reported in 2016.

Monkey fever is a virus fever, belonging to the family Flaviviridae, which also includes yellow fever and dengue fever. The disease is carried by ticks, rodents, birds, etc., and it affects monkeys and human beings. It is a vector-borne disease.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “The KFD virus is an arbovirus, genus flavivirus and family Flaviviridae. Humans acquire the infection by bite of infective ticks. The main reservoirs of the virus are small mammals, especially rats and squirrels. Monkeys are amplifying hosts for the virus. Man is an incidental dead-end host. Human to human transmission has not been reported.  The epidemic period usually begins in October or November and peaks from January to April, then declines by May and June. The incubation period for the virus is 3 to 8 days after an infective tick bite. The case fatality rate is 2% to 10% and higher in the elderly and in the presence of comorbidities such as liver disease.”

The primary signs and symptoms of this condition include high fever, frontal headaches, and hemorrhagic symptoms; while the secondary ones include vomiting, muscle stiffness, tremors, absent reflexes, and mental disturbances.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “People with recreational or occupational exposure to rural or outdoor settings are more at risk. KFD can be diagnosed through PCR, virus isolation from blood or enzyme-linked immunosorbent serologic assay (ELISA). It is also recommended for patients to take proper rest and consume a diet rich in proteins.”

  • · Prevention of monkey fever is through control of ticks in forests by insecticide spraying of the endemic zones and “hot spots” in the forests. This mean within 50 m of the area where monkey deaths have occurred; wearing adequate clothing and using insect repellents (DEET).
  • · At risk population should be vaccinated with killed KFD vaccine.
  • · There is no specific treatment for KFD; it can only be supported by maintenance