Monkey Fever: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment



Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), popularly called Monkey fever is a viral disease caused by a virus belonging to the family Flaviviridae. Insects, sticks are the carrier of this virus, while human beings are infected by the bites of these insects. It is a vector-borne condition that chiefly affects monkeys and human beings.

The fever was first noted in Kyasanur forest, Shivamogga district located in the Western Ghats of Karnataka in the year 1957. Several monkeys were infected by the virus and died, thus getting the name Monkey fever. The infection was known to transmit to people who had handled the infected dead monkeys.

What Is Monkey Fever?

Monkey fever is a viral haemorrhagic fever, the condition is hemorrhagic in nature as in later stages of infection, and the patients would observe bleeding in the throat, stomach, intestines, nasal cavity and gums. It is a zoonotic fever categorised by a sudden onset of high fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and neurological symptoms. The mortality rate is about 3 to 10% and the monkey fever affects around 400-500 people each year.

Monkey fever/Kyasanur Forest Disease is a rare health condition as it develops only along the Western Ghats and was limited to that region for almost seven decades. However, the fever has spread along the Ghats section to adjacent states including Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.

Causes And Transmission

The vector or the carrier of monkey fever is the Haemaphsalis spinigera, which is a forest tick. The virus is also passed to the offspring when the infected ticks lay eggs. Furthermore, other carriers of the virus are rodents, shrews, birds and mammals like cattle, sheep and goat. When human beings get in contact with these carriers or when an infected tick bites them, they get affected. Monkey fever is quite common among local farmers, tourist, hunters who visit the Western Ghats. There is no clear evidence to prove human-to-human transmission of the disease.

Symptoms Of Monkey Fever

The most common symptoms are fever represented as chills with an intense headache and bleeding from the nose, throat, gums and the intestine after 4 days of the onset of the symptoms. Low blood pressure, decreased platelet and blood counts are the other symptoms linked with monkey fever. Some of the neurological symptoms associated with the fever include:




Mental Disorder

Poor eyesight

Poor reflexes

The incubation period of monkey fever is 3 to 8 days, in most cases, the intensity of the virus settles on its own in a week’s time without any serious complications. But the recuperation period is long and the infected person may feel tired and have severe body aches and muscle pain which may hinder their routine work.

Diagnosis And Treatment

Monkey fever is diagnosed by doing certain blood tests which include hemagglutination inhibition assay (HI), complement fixation tests, neutralization tests, RT-PCR and ELISA test to detect the presence of immunoglobulin M antibodies. Doctors recommend a PCR test during the initial stage and later stage ELISA test is performed.

There is no definite treatment mode for this fever, however, it is advised to seek medical help to effectively manage the condition. Patients are put on intravenous fluid therapy to replace fluid lost and other measures are also taken to avert and control hemorrhagic bleeding. The patients suffering from fever are advised to get adequate rest, stay well hydrated and eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet to support faster convalescence.

 Monkey Fever Prevention 

Following certain precautionary measures may help to contain the spread of Monkey fever. Here are some effective preventive measures to avert the spread of viruses.

Early detection of symptoms and prompt diagnosis may reduce the rate of fatalities

It is vital to have a regular track of any unusual deaths of monkeys in endemic and non-endemic areas.

Detecting the tick spots areas with help of mapping techniques will ease to spot them and kill them at the root.

Proper pesticide treatment and disinfectant in the surrounding areas and vicinity of the monkey death can avert the risk of fever.

If you have any plans to visit the forest wear protective clothing and use insect repellents like DEET and DMP.