The Karnataka High Court has issued a notice to the state government to provide medical facilities to treat people suffering from Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) in the state. The notice was issued based on a public interest litigation (PIL) which has sought directions from the state government to make sufficient vaccines available, particularly for the residents living close to forest areas in Shivamogga.
The petition was filed by KP Sripal, an advocate from Shivamogga. The petitioners have also asked the state government to provide sufficient quantity of dimethyl phthalate (DMP) oil, a tick repellent, to people in affected areas. Ticks act as vectors of the virus and an outbreak of the disease is usually preceded by the death of monkeys in the forest areas.
The health department has also been asked to set up KFD disease diagnostic centres in district centres and constitute an expert team to find dead monkeys to conduct scientific studies in the Western Ghats.
The disease, first discovered in 1957 in the Kyasanur forest range of Shivamogga, has now spread to four other states - Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra - all along the Western Ghats. Every year, the disease recurs in a new location in the Western Ghats making researchers and doctors scramble to take measures to tackle the outbreak.
In 2018, an outbreak was reported in Aralagodu village in Sagar taluk of Shivamogga district, which has taken the lives of six people so far. The Health department is under fire after it emerged that there were serious lapses in administering vaccines in the last year prior to the outbreak.