A National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) team from Delhi is being summoned to Goa to probe a mysterious viral fever, caused by wild ticks, in the rural, forested Goan village of Pali that claimed nine lives over the last few weeks.
Utkarsh Betodkar, the top epidemiologist at the state Directorate of Health Services (DHS), said that tick control measures in Pali — located 60 kms from Panaji — had been ordered with the help of the state animal husbandary department to control the fever, which has been now identified as Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD).
It spreads through a species of hard ticks, a parasite which attaches itself to wild animals. “A NCDC team will be visiting the state to carry out detailed investigation of the outbreak and also give expertise in prevention and control measures in the affected areas,” the official said.
For now, local health officials have been asked to visit the village, identify fresh cases and create awareness about the same.
A statement issued by the DHS on Wednesday, said that 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 then, between 400-500 humans cases per year have been reported. Hard ticks (Hemaphysalis spinigera) are the reservoir of KFD virus and once infected, remain so for life. Rodents, shrews, and monkeys are common hosts for KFDV after being bitten by an infected tick. KFDV can cause epizootics with high fatality in primates,” the statement said.
“Transmission to humans may occur after a tick bite or contact with an infected animal, most importantly a sick or recently dead monkey… Large animals such as goats, cows, and sheep may become infected with Kyasanur Forest Disease but play a limited role in the transmission of the disease,” the statement said, adding that there is no evidence of disease transmission via the unpasteurized milk of any of these animals.
The DHS statement said that the fatality rate of the disease is between three to five percent. (IANS)