Monkey fever in India: Symptoms and prevention

Monkey fever has claimed two lives in Karnataka. Read on to learn how the infection spreads and what you can do to prevent it.

It seems that new viruses are emerging at a rapid rate than ever before. A new virus causing monkey fever has gripped people in India as well. Also known as Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), monkey fever has claimed two lives in Karnataka. The state has been seeing a sudden rise in the cases of ‘Monkey Fever’ lately. As the situation worsens, the health authorities have been forced the authorities to take urgent action to control the surge of the disease. As per media reports, an 18-year-old girl and a 79-year-old man have succumbed to the virus. If it can be lethal, you need to know all about the Monkey fever and how it spreads.

Health Shots reached out to Dr Divya K S, Consultant Infectious Disease Specialist at Apollo Hospitals to understand how monkey fever spreads and what you can do to curb the spread of the disease.

What is monkey fever?

Monkey fever or Kyasanur forest disease (KFD) is caused by the KFD virus, which is an arbovirus that infects rodents, and monkeys according to the Indian Journal of Medical Research. It is named after the Kyasanur forest, where the disease was first reported in India.

31 cases of the disease have been reported in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, and it has claimed two lives.

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A woman suffering form cold, cough
Monkey fever is spreading in Karnataka. Image courtesy: Freepik

Is monkey fever transmissible?

Infection occurs through tick bites that carry the virus, or by coming in contact with an infected animal such as monkeys. Ticks on infected monkeys can spread the infection to humans by their bite. However, no person-to-person transmission has been described so far, says the expert.

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What are the symptoms of monkey fever?

After getting infected with the virus and an incubation period of three to seven days, “It can start as a sudden onset fever with chills, headache, and severe body pain. The person infected with the disease may also experience vomiting and other gastrointestinal symptoms. When severe, over the next three to four days, it can cause a drop in blood pressure, a fall in blood counts, and may cause bleeding,” explains Dr Divya.

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woman with fever holding a thermometer
Know the symptoms of monkey fever. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Now KFT has historically been limited to the western and central districts of Karnataka state. People residing or visiting these regions, if they develop the above signs and symptoms, should immediately report to the healthcare professionals.

How to prevent it?

There is no treatment for Kyasanur Forest Disease, but the expert says that if the patient notices any symptoms, they should get hospitalised early and supportive therapy is important. You should stay well hydrated to maintain your health, and if you notice any severe symptoms such as a fall in blood pressure or fall in blood counts, which may cause bleeding, you need to get it taken care of.

You can also practise precaution by following preventive measures when you visit infected areas, which include using insect repellents and wearing protective clothing where the ticks are endemic.

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