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Tamil Nadu Health Department Issues Advisory Amid Monkey Fever Surge in Karnataka

The Tamil Nadu Public Health Department has raised concerns over the increasing cases of Monkey Fever (Kyasanur Forest Disease) in neighbouring Karnataka districts, prompting the issuance of an advisory to Tamil Nadu forest authorities and local bodies in bordering areas.

As Monkey Fever cases surge in Karnataka, with two fatalities and 103 hospitalizations reported in Shivamogga, Uttara Kannada, and Chickmagaluru districts, the threat looms large over Tamil Nadu’s border villages.

A joint study by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV) has confirmed the presence of the virus in Mysore and Hassan districts of Karnataka, adjacent to Tamil Nadu.

To mitigate the risk, health and forest authorities have intensified surveillance along the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border, particularly targeting forest personnel, anti-poaching watchers, and guards, who are at higher risk due to their proximity to wildlife habitats.

The Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) in the Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, shares borders with the Bandipur National Park in Karnataka, where about 200 field staff operate daily, potentially exposing themselves to the virus carried by monkeys, rodents, and shrews.

With the approaching dry season and forest fires, which can exacerbate the spread of ticks carrying the virus, the coming months pose heightened risks for field staff. Although vaccination against Monkey Fever was administered to forest personnel in the Nilgiris until 2020, the practice was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monkey Fever typically manifests symptoms like chills, fever, headache, severe muscle pain, vomiting, gastrointestinal issues, and bleeding. While there’s no specific treatment, early hospitalization and supportive therapy are crucial for managing the disease.

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