To delve into the possible causes for the outbreak of Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), also known as monkey fever, and on measures to tackle it, the Department of Health and Family Welfare has undertaken a comprehensive research project.
Rajesh Suragihalli, District Health Officer, told The Hindu that the United Kingdom based Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Belagavi, will join hands with the department in the project.
Mr. Suragihalli said the research project is of a two-year duration.
Focus of the study
The ecological factors that might have triggered the outbreak of the disease, the evolution and behaviour of the Flaviviridae family of the virus that cause KFD and Haemaphysalis Spinigera variety of tick that acts as its vector, the possibilities of improving the efficacy of the vaccine administered to prevent the disease will be studied as part of the research work, he said.
Mr. Suragihalli said the possibilities of rats and bandicoots also acting as hosts for the virus will also be studied.
How it spreads
KFD is a viral infection that transmits from monkeys to humans through tick-bite. High fever, aches in joints and the frontal portion of head, and bleeding of gums and teeth are the main symptoms of KFD.
The first outbreak was reported at Kyasanur village in Shivamogga district in 1957. Since then, 530 people have died as a result of KFD in Karnataka.
In other states
In 2017, four persons died of KFD in Shivamogga district and 48 positive cases were reported here.
He said that though Shivamogga district is epicentre of the disease, outbreaks have been reported in Kerala, Goa and Maharashtra too. The research project will focus on the pattern in which the virus spreads, he said.
Visit by experts
Mr. Suragihalli said that the experts from Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and National Institute of Traditional Medicine have visited Kannangi, Chiduva, Basavani, Mahishi, Dabbanagadde and surrounding villages in Tirthahalli taluk where the KFD cases were reported recently.
They interacted with the persons who have recovered from KFD and collected information on the practices employed by the field staff of the department for collection of ticks from the forest for research, he said.