Two monkey carcasses test positive for rare disease

Panaji, March 24 (IANS) Samples taken from two monkey carcasses found earlier this week in the forests of Goa have tested positive for Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) locally known as monkey fever, a health official said on Thursday.

Speaking to IANS, Pradeep Shinkre, attached to the Ponda sub district hospital had sent the samples sources from the dead monkeys to the National Institute of Virology in Pune, where the samples tested positive for KFD.

Over the last two years, seven people have died, while 150 people have tested positive for KFD, all of them in the remote Sattari sub district, is located within the lower reaches of the Western Ghat mountain range in Goa.

However, earlier this week, two cases were reported in the neighbouring Ponda sub district, which were the first reported instances of the disease spreading to areas outside Sattari.

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 detection, 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.

According to Goa Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza, who is also the health minister, over 5,000 people living in the Sattari, Ponda and nearby areas have been vaccinated and awareness campaigns about monkey fever were being carried out by the Directorate of Health Services in the state.

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