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Monkey Fever

 - Hyderabad

General Physician

Hyderabad   |   18 Mar 2024

Monkey Fever

What Exactly Is Monkey  Fever?

Kyasanur forest disease virus (KFDV) is a virus that is isolated from monkeys and is transmitted via ticks. Ticks or mites are parasites that live on the surface of the skin, especially in animals with fur on their body. When this virus reaches humans through ticks, it causes Monkey Fever. This is not only fatal to small mammals and birds but also to humans. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Monkey Fever?

The symptoms of this disease can range from mild sickness to severe neurological illness. There is a lack of complete understanding of how this fever is present in humans. However,  the following symptoms were reported across the majority of the cases:

  • Generalized Chills: Since this is a viral infection, a sensation of cold accompanied by shivering is experienced as chills in the initial stages.
  • Headache: Headache in the front of the forehead is a classic sign of monkey fever.
  • Muscle Aches: Most affected people experience discomfort in their muscles due to soreness and fatigue.
  • Gastrointestinal Problems: Gut issues like vomiting and diarrhea last for the first two weeks. 
  • High Temperatures: High fever is a classic symptom of this monkey fever and lasts till recovery.
  • Tremors: High fever is accompanied with persistent muscle twitching and weakness.
  • Photophobia: Sensitivity of eyes to bright light is reported in some cases.
  • Cough: When the symptoms don’t subside in two weeks, a persistent cough results in the presence of blood in phlegm or sputum.
  • Oral Signs: Presence of bleeding gums and generalized soreness along with painful oral ulcers can lead to loss of appetite.
  • Neurological Disturbances: In advanced stages, monkey fever can result in seizures and encephalitis. Encephalitis is an inflammation and swelling of the brain which may be fatal.
  • Hepatomegaly: An enlarged liver formed as a result of monkey fever can lead to jaundice and abdominal pain.

How Does Monkey Fever Spread?

Monkey fever spreads via tick bites by coming into contact with monkeys which are infected with Kyasanur forest disease virus. Although several other smaller animals carry this virus, the majority of the transmission is from monkeys, hence the name monkey fever. Till date there have been no reported cases of human-to-human transmission. 

How Is Monkey Fever Diagnosed?

Monkey fever is detected based on the symptoms experienced. However, since the symptoms are generalized, certain tests can be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test: A salivary swab is collected which is sent to the lab. This swab is tested for the presence of the virus using molecular detection techniques.
  • Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Serologic Assay (ELISA): Another form of testing that can be performed is ELISA. Here, any existing viral particles are amplified in the lab, making it easy to detect the virus.

Both PCR and ELISA are rapid tests, where the results can be expected in 24 hours, allowing for quick intervention to improve health.

Treatment Modalities:

Unfortunately, there is no specific antiviral medicine available for monkey fever. Your physician will help you manage the disease and prevent worsening of the symptoms. Early detection, hospitalization, and supportive therapy will be provided by your physician. This allows your doctor to have a close watch to prevent excessive bleeding, especially in people with other comorbidities.

Prevention Of Monkey Fever:

Monkey fever is common in areas and occupations with high animal-human interaction. This means that farmers are at risk for this disease. Since there is no known cure, prevention strategies become extremely important.

  • Double Dose Vaccination: Vaccinations are available against this virus. In the event of infection, this ensures that the symptoms do not take a turn towards the worst possible scenario. Vaccination efforts can be concentrated in regions with large groups of at risk individuals.
  • Tick Bite Avoidance: Although the virus is active in monkeys, it can enter a human’s bloodstream via the parasite - a tick. Using protective clothing when handling animals can prove to be the best form of prevention.
  • Avoid Travel: Certain regions have a high epidemic impact during some seasons when monkey fever becomes wide spread. It is best to avoid traveling to these areas to protect yourself from the disease. This significantly reduces the risk of exposure. 
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