The state health authorities have said that closure of Manipal University’s virology unit at the Valpoi community health centre will not impact testing of the suspected cases of the Kyasanur forest disease (KFD) as the Directorate of Health Services has made arrangements to send the samples to the Udupi city-based laboratory.
“Manipal was doing a study of acute fever cases all over the Western Ghats and they had set up their centre here in 2015 because Sattari taluka is KFD-prone zone. They were drawing samples on a daily basis and sending it to their laboratory in Udupi and now the samples will be routed through us to the same laboratory. Patients will get all the services,” said Dr Utkarsh Betodkar, epidemiologist at DHS.
He informed that the DHS has started programme for the new season of the KFD which begins in December and continues till the arrival of the monsoon.
“Our health officers are carrying out vaccination in high-risk areas and also distributing Dimethyl phthalate (DMP) tick repellent oil to the villagers which they have to apply on their body before venturing in the forest especially in cashew plantations,” he said.
Dr Betodkar said that DHS is in possession of enough stock of vaccination and DMP oil to meet the requirements for the new season.
Goa has witnessed a significant decline in the Kyasanur forest disease (KFD), with just 19 cases being recorded in 2019. In 2016, 285 people were afflicted within Goa, three among whom died. In 2017, the number of KFD cases came down to 85, and in 2018 it plunged further wherein 59 cases were reported, with no KFD-related deaths reported in last three years.
Dr Betodkar urged people to turn up for the booster dose of the vaccination against the disease.
The skipping of the second dose has made the vaccinated people vulnerable to the KFD as the first dose immunises a person for a certain period of time after which subsequent doses are mandatory to keep the disease at bay.
Stressing on the need for people to take precaution, he advised the people to avoid visiting forest area unnecessarily. He said that people should take extra care while visiting cashew plantations, they should walk along clear trails and avoid coming in contact with weed.
He said that it will be safer for people to wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants to avoid being bitten by ticks. Besides, people need to take a scrub bath on their return home to get rid of ticks.