Alert in Wayanad as 'monkey fever' reported in Karnataka

Alert in Wayanad as 'monkey fever' reported in Karnataka
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Kalpetta: With the outbreak of Kyasanur Forest Disease (commonly called monkey fever) in Shivamogga district in Karnataka, Wayanad district collector A R Ajayakumar has urgently set in motion the disease prevention and surveillance protocol in the district.

There is a reason why the collector has stepped up surveillance. The KFD virus strikes every four years. Last time the virus wreaked havoc in Wayanad was four years ago in 2015 when 102 cases were reported and 11 had died. Otherwise, the virus had generally kept a very low profile in Wayanad. In 2016, there were nine reported cases. In 2017 and 2018, not a single case was reported. The first reported outbreak in the district was in 2013 with just one case.

District medical officer R Renuka told Onmanorama that preventive vaccines would be brought to Wayanad on January 10 and vaccination of the high-risk group would begin from January 11. The two-day nationwide strike has prevented officials from immediately travelling to Shimoga, where the vaccines are being prepared on request.

The district collector called an emergency meeting of all the stake holders including health, forest and police officials to review the situation in the district on Monday evening.

“This precautionary measure is taken as an outbreak of KFD has been reported from Shivamogga district in Karnataka. There is no incidence of KFD identified in Wayanad this year. However, as a precautionary measure, the healthcare machinery will be put on a state of alert. There is no need to panic,” said collector AR Ajayakumar.

Since the virus is spread through ticks that suck the blood of infected monkeys, instructions have been given to officials and public to inform any monkey death. Dead monkeys, it is said, are more likely to spread the disease. In the event of death, Malathion (an insecticide used widely in agriculture) dusting have to be performed in the 50-meter radius of the primate corpse. Those who are likely to visit forest and have contact with monkeys, should start using repellents as a precautionary measure, till the vaccine arrives. The virus would be active usually in a frequency of four years.

What is Kyasanur forest disease (KFD)

According to scholarly articles, Kyasanur forest disease (KFD) was first recognised as a febrile illness in the Shimoga district of Karnataka. The causative agent, KFD virus (KFDV), is a highly pathogenic member in the family Flaviviridae, producing a haemorrhagic disease in infected human beings. KFD is a zoonotic disease, something that can pass from animals to humans, and has so far been localised only in the southern part of India. The exact cause of its emergence in the mid 1950s is not known. A variant of KFDV, characterised serologically and genetically as Alkhurma haemorrhagic fever virus (AHFV), has been recently identified in Saudi Arabia. KFDV and AHFV share 89% sequence homology, suggesting common ancestral origin.

Homology modelling of KFDV envelope (E) protein exhibited a structure similar to those of other flaviviruses, suggesting a common mechanism of virus-cell fusion. The possible mechanism of receptor-ligand interaction involved in infection by KFDV may resemble that of other flaviviruses. Present understanding is that KFDV may be persisting silently in several regions of India and that antigenic and structural differences from other tick borne viruses may be related to the unique host specificity and pathogenicity of KFDV.

Symptoms

Fever with shivering, headache, diarrhoea, neck pain, reddening of eyes and bleeding from nose.

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