Although not laboratory confirmed yet, health officials in Wayanad district in Kerala state, India say that a recent death in a resident may be the 3rd case suspected monkey fever, or Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) death case being reported from the district in a week, according to a report in The Hindu today.

India Image/CIA

As many as 35 KFD cases had been reported in the district in three weeks so far, sources said.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kyasanur Forest disease (KFD) is caused by Kyasanur Forest disease virus (KFDV), a member of the virus family Flaviviridae. KFDV was identified in 1957 when it was isolated from a sick monkey from the Kyasanur Forest in Karnataka (formerly Mysore) State, India. Since then, between 400-500 humans cases per year have been reported.

Transmission to humans may occur after a tick bite [Hard ticks (Hemaphysalis spinigera) are the reservoir of KFD virus] or contact with an infected animal, most importantly a sick or recently dead monkey. No person-to-person transmission has been described.

The symptoms of KFD begin suddenly with chills, fever, and headache. Severe muscle pain with vomiting, gastrointestinal symptoms and bleeding problems may occur 3-4 days after initial symptom onset.

While most people recover without complications, the illness is biphasic for a subset of patients (10-20%) who experience a second wave of symptoms at the beginning of the third week. These symptoms include fever and signs of neurological manifestations, such as severe headache, mental disturbances, tremors, and vision deficits.

The estimated case-fatality rate is from 3 to 5% for KFD.

There is no specific treatment for KFD; however, supportive care for patients with bleeding disorders is important.

Along with the usual preventive measures against tick bites, a vaccine does exist for KFD and is used in endemic areas of India.

KFDV can cause epizootics with high fatality in primates.

Kyasanur Forest disease/CDC
Kyasanur Forest disease/CDC