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Monkey fever returns to haunt Sattari residents

VALPOI: The Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) or the monkey fever, a viral infection which had been confined to the Pali area of Thane village panchayat in Sattari taluka this year, has returned to haunt the residents, this time in the Mauxi region of the Thane village panchayat.

It has been reported that in Mauxi village, two people have been infected with the disease and the cases were subsequently referred to the Goa Medical College at Bambolim for further treatment. In February this year, there was an outbreak of the disease in Pali village, affecting many people and killing four.

When contacted, health officer of the Valpoi Community Health Centre Surekha Parulekar confirmed that two cases were reported last week and immediately referred to the GMC. “Both the patients from Mauxi were referred to the Goa Medical College from the Community Health Centre at Valpoi and they are now in good condition,” she said.

According to a virologist, this virus has been isolated from several species of ticks found in the Western Ghats. Among animals, only monkeys seem to succumb to the infection after they come in contact with the infected ticks. A monkey’s death in a locality is often an indication that human infections might follow. “The disease has a pattern and human cases are usually reported from November through March when young ticks become active in forests,” said Parulekar, adding that they have already started an awareness drive in the areas of Mauxi.

“The only strategy that can be adopted to guard against KFD outbreak would be a regular surveillance for ticks and testing them for virus positivity, much ahead of the ‘season’ in August-September. We are carrying out this activity in a systematic manner. Of course, the disease could emerge in new areas, so Manipal Centre for Virus Research has started its virology centre at the CHC, Valpoi. The two patients from Mauxi infected by the disease were diagnosed there. The centre has started its studies and is investigating KFD and other viruses free of cost in Sattari,” Parulekar said.

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