‘Monkey fever’ kills three and infects 55 in India as disease spread by primates

Three people have been killed by “monkey fever” as the disease spread by primates takes hold in India.

Health authorities have reported at least three people have died in the past two weeks of the virus.

It is dubbed monkey fever, or the monkey disease, because it is spread by primates carrying ticks who then infect humans.

A 48-year-old woman – named only as Meenakshi – is the latest victim, dying at Kozhikode medical college hospital on Friday.

And then a 64-year-old resident died last Saturday, and a 58-year-old woman also died due to the disease.

Monkey fever is also known as Kyasanur Forest disease, and is a viral haemorrhage fever which originated in southern India.

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Dr Ashok Kumar said: “Two cases of KFD have been confirmed in Siddapura. Viscera samples from the carcass of the monkey had also revealed the presence of the virus.

“We have enough stock of vaccines and are creating awareness among the public about vaccination.”

Monkey fever normally originates in March, but popped up early this year as cases begun to be reported in January.

At least 55 people have already tested positive in Shivamogga, and Indian authorities are rolling out a mass vaccination programme.

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In a statement, the district medical officer R Renuka said: “Around 600 people living close to the forest have been administered with the KFD vaccine so far.

“Health officers are taking efforts to make the public aware about the virus spread and its precautionary measures”

Health department officials have urged people to seek out vaccination and take precautions.

Monkeys are spreaders of the virus as they carry ticks, passing the infection to other primates, other animals and humans.

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Health officials also urged people to apply insect repellent ointments and use anti-tick lotions on domestic animals.

Monkey fever first emerged in 1957 – killing a large number of monkeys, before then passing on to humans.

The virus passed to humans by the handling of dead monkeys.

It has a fatality rate of up to 10%, and typically impacts around 500 people worldwide.

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Monkey fever causes high temperatures followed by bleeding from the nose, throat and gums.

It can also lead to bleeding out of the rectum, along with vomiting, stiffness int he muscles, mental disturbances, reflexes and tremors.

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Infected people may recover in up to two weeks, but the after effects will be felt for months.

The virus has resurfaced as the world fights coronavirus, with India reporting 43 cases – but no deaths.

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