What is Kyasanur Forest Disease? What are its symptoms? How is it transmitted? How is it diagnosed and how can it be prevented? Read further to know.
Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) is a viral hemorrhagic fever that is transmitted through ticks and is consistently present in Karnataka State, India.
It is also referred to as monkey fever.
The virus responsible for this disease, known as Kyasanur forest disease Virus (KFDV), is part of the Flavivirus genus and the Flaviviridae family.
About Kyasanur Forest Disease
In 1957, KFDV was discovered when monkeys in the Kyasanur Forest region of Shimoga district, Karnataka State, fell ill with a febrile illness. A few deaths were reported in nearby human beings populations. The disease has since spread to other parts of India, including Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
During 2012-2013, the disease was reported from new districts and new states in India, like districts of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamilnadu.
A tick bite or contact with an infected animal, most particularly a sick or recently deceased monkey, may result in transmission to humans. No transfer from one person to another has been observed.
Despite having a small impact on the disease’s transmission, large animals including cows, sheep, and goats may transmit KFD.
Chills, fever, and headache are the first signs of KFD to appear after an incubation period of 3 to 8 days. 3–4 days after the start of the initial symptom, severe muscle pain with vomiting, gastrointestinal complaints, and bleeding issues may appear. Low platelet, red blood cell, and white blood cell counts, as well as abnormally low blood pressure, can occur in patients.
Some patients may recover without complications after one to two weeks. However, for a subset of patients (10-20%), the illness has a biphasic nature, with a second wave of symptoms occurring at the beginning of the third week. These symptoms can include fever, as well as neurological manifestations such as severe headaches, mental disturbances, tremors, and vision deficits.
For KFD, the case-fatality rate is reportedly between 3 and 5%.
Outbreaks of KFD usually occur during the winter and spring months, when tick activity is at its peak. The disease is most commonly found in rural and forested areas, where people come into contact with ticks through activities such as farming, forestry, and hunting. However, there have been cases of KFD occurring in urban areas as well.
Diagnosis of KFD can be challenging, as the disease can mimic other illnesses such as dengue fever and malaria. Laboratory testing is required to confirm a diagnosis, but this can be difficult in remote areas where laboratory facilities are lacking. Point-of-care testing could be useful in these situations, as it allows for on-site sample processing.
Point-of-Care Testing for KFD
Point-of-Care Testing is developed by The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)- National Institute of Virology.
The kit comprises a battery-powered Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) analyzer, which is a lightweight, portable device that uses universal cartridges for sample pre-treatment and nucleic acid extraction. This aids in on-site sample processing.
Benefits of Point-of-Care Test
Point-of-care tests would be advantageous in diagnosing KFD, given that outbreaks typically occur in remote areas where adequate sample handling and laboratory testing facilities are lacking.
The point-of-care test would also be useful in quick patient management and controlling the further spread of the virus.
Prevention of KFD relies on avoiding tick bites through measures such as wearing long-sleeved clothing, using insect repellent, and avoiding tick-infested areas. A vaccine is also available for people at high risk of exposure, such as forest workers and farmers.
Government’s Approach to Curb Zoonotic Disease
Zoonotic diseases are those that can be transmitted from animals to humans, and they pose a significant threat to public health. In response to this, governments around the world have implemented various initiatives to help prevent and control the spread of zoonotic diseases.
One example of a government initiative is the One Health approach, which is a collaborative effort between human, animal, and environmental health sectors to prevent and control zoonotic diseases. This approach recognizes that human health, animal health, and environmental health are interconnected, and it seeks to address the underlying factors that contribute to the emergence and spread of zoonotic diseases.
Another initiative is the establishment of disease surveillance and reporting systems, which are critical for early detection and rapid response to zoonotic disease outbreaks. This involves monitoring and reporting of animal and human disease cases, as well as the identification of high-risk areas and populations.
Governments also invest in the research and development of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics for zoonotic diseases. This helps to improve disease prevention and control measures and to develop effective treatments for infected individuals.
In addition, public awareness campaigns and education initiatives are implemented to educate people on zoonotic diseases and how to prevent them. This includes promoting good hygiene practices, such as hand washing and proper food handling, as well as educating people on how to avoid contact with potentially infected animals.
Overall, government initiatives to curb zoonotic diseases are crucial for protecting public health and preventing the spread of these diseases. These efforts require collaboration across various sectors, including health, agriculture, and the environment, to effectively address the complex challenges associated with zoonotic diseases.
In conclusion, KFD is a serious and potentially fatal disease that is endemic to Karnataka State, India. While outbreaks are more common in rural and forested areas, the disease can occur in urban areas as well. Prevention of tick bites and vaccination are key strategies in controlling the spread of KFD.
Article Written By: Priti Raj
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