Shivamogga district in Karnataka has been fighting an aggressive battle with the tick-borne Kyasanur Forest Disease, or ‘monkey fever,’ for the past few months. On Saturday, a 38-year-old woman, Poornima S, succumbed to monkey fever, raising the current death toll of the disease to 12. Prior to this another resident of Shivamogga, 68-year-old Parshwanath Jain had succumbed to the fever on Friday.
Parshwanath Jain and Poornima S had presented with symptoms of monkey fever, and were being treated at a private hospital in the district. Parshwanath passed away on Friday, while Poornima died on Saturday.
“The woman who died (Poornima) had some underlying health conditions for which she was undergoing treatment. We did not get any confirmation of the disease in her lab tests. Rather it seems that she died to due underlying cardiomyopathy. The tests done at the lab in Manipal did not confirm the presence of the monkey fever virus, however we have conducted a separate test and the results are awaited,” stated District Health Officer (DHO) Dr Kiran, to TNM.
Though Poornima’s initial lab results turned out to be negative for monkey fever, doctors remained convinced that there must have been an error, as she presented with symptoms of the disease. Her samples were sent for testing again at the lab in Shivamogga, but those results have yet to be released. Doctors also noted that the immediate reason behind her death was due to the aggravation of an underlying condition, brought on by the fever she presented with, though the fever did not directly result in her death.
Dr Kiran further noted that most of the incidents being reported in the area were sporadic ones and that most of the residents in Aralogod area had been vaccinated.
It was also reported that a 51-year-old woman, who is a resident of Sagar Taluk’s Nandodi village in the district of Shivamogga, died on Sunday due to suspected monkey fever.
Kyasanur Forest Disease, or ‘monkey fever’ is caused by a virus which belongs to the flavivirus genus. Humans contract the disease via infected ticks which pass on the virus to monkeys and other animals. A monkey which succumbs to the infection ends up becoming a ‘hotbed’ of infected ticks, and a person who comes in contact with the dead animal is at risk of contracting the disease.
Over 90,000 people from the affected regions, which include Sagar, have been given their primary and booster vaccine doses against the disease. Officials from the state health department have been working to closely monitor further outbreaks of the disease.