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ICMR finalises manufacturer of KFD vaccine for monkey fever to thwart fatality across Karnataka’s 11 districts

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Wednesday, May 31, 2023, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has finalised the manufacturer of Kyasanur forest disease (KFD) vaccine for monkey fever. However, the details are yet to be disclosed. Going by the criticality of the this major public health problem along the belts of Western Ghats of India, efforts have been made to research and manufacture the vaccine.

KFD is a rare tick borne zoonotic disease accounting for a fatality rate of 3-10%. It affects 400-500 people annually. The disease was first noted at Kyasanur village near Sagar in Shivamogga district of Karnataka. The virus has been detected in monkeys in parts of Bandipur National Park at Chamarajnagar and parts of the Nilgiris. The disease causes acute febrile hemorrhagic illness in humans and monkeys especially in southern part of India. The highly pathogenic KFD virus belongs to member of the genus Flavivirus and family Flaviviridae.

Dr Pragya Yadav, scientist, National Institute of Virology, Pune said that the formal announcement of the KFD manufacturer is expected soon.

After the previous KFD vaccine withdrawn last year following its inefficacy, people in the endemic districts of Karnataka have been left in the lurch without protection against the dreaded disease.

The dreaded disease is known to affect people in 11 districts of Karnataka but more prominently in Shivamogga’s three taluks of Sagar, Shikaripur and Sorab. This apart, the disease is extensively reported Uttara Kannada, Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and Chikkamagaluru districts. 

In 2022, officials from the Karnataka directorate of health and family welfare stated that the Kyasanur forest disease resulted in two fatalities of the 49 cases reported. But during the year of the corona virus disease onset in 2020, there were five fatalities and 287 cases reported.

According to a researcher working on the development of the vaccine for the Kyasanur forest disease, without an inoculation, there was no protection for the people in these regions. Preventive measures like regular surveillance to catch the Kyasanur forest disease, could thwart fatalities and enable early treatment intervention.

While there is no specific treatment for the Kyasanur forest disease, only early hospitalization and supportive therapy is the key. Supportive therapy includes the maintenance of hydration and the usual precautions for patients with bleeding disorders with immunosuppressive medicines, stated medical experts.
Seven decades ago, Kyasanur forest disease was widespread in Shivamogga district. The Karnataka director of health and family welfare department had set up the first KFD vaccine unit in this district to tackle the problem. In 2000, the production unit was closed as the vaccine failed to adhere to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the norms of regulatory authorities.
Following this in 2002, the Bengaluru-based Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals (IAHVB), an autonomous body of the Karnataka government released a novel vaccine for humans.


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