A rare viral strain of monkey fever has killed a 60-year-old woman from Mauxi village in Goa, officials have confirmed.
The Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), the official name for ‘monkey fever’, is said to be spread through ticks, a parasite commonly found on monkeys.
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The victim from the village in North Goa, 50 km from Panaji, expired at the Goa Medical College Hospital located on the outskirts of Panaji, where she was admitted last week after the fever worsened.
Confirming the death, Utkarsh Betodkar, state epidemiologist at the Directorate of Health Services, said that screening of villagers of Mauxi in Sattari sub-district has been upped.
“Because of the screening, we have discovered more cases, which are being treated now,” Betodkar said.
Over the last one month, 24 people tested positive for the disease, the official said.
In April last year, a team from the National Centre for Disease Control had visited Pali village in Sattari, after KFD claimed nine lives in quick succession.
KFD is caused by a similarly named virus which was first identified in 1957, when it was isolated from a sick monkey from the Kyasanur forest in Karnataka.
Since the time of its discovery, around 400-500 people across western India have been infected by the rare disease which spreads through ticks, a parasite for which monkeys are common hosts.
The KFD issue was also raised during the winter session of the Goa assembly.
Goa’s Health Minister Francis D’Souza has said there was a need to increase awareness about the disease, but also bemoaned the lack of public enthusiasm vis-a-vis the vaccination drive started by the health authorities.
“Last year, we had started vaccination which can solve the problem, but the response from the people of these affected villages has not been good,” D’Souza said, adding that the disease does not spread from human to human.