In order to control the density of ticks in Aralagodu gram panchayat limits of Sagar taluk, where the Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), also known as Monkey Fever, is virulent, the Health department has decided to use Mist Blower machines.
The Mist Blower machines are used to spray Malathion powder within 100-metre radius of the places where monkeys are found dead. The initiative is said to be the first of its kind in the state since KFD was reported first in 1957
in the Kyasanur forests of Sorab taluk in Shivamogga district.
Confirming this, District Health Officer Rajesh Suragihalli told DH that till now, staffers of the Health department were manually spraying Malathion powder, which is highly toxic, laced with sand and ash powder, in places where monkeys were found.
But the adoption of this method would ensure the right quantity of sand and ash powder. It is far better than doing it manually.
Each machine would cost Rs 60,000 and around six machines would be purchased from a dealer based in Mangaluru soon.
A vital role
“We are hopeful that the new method would play a vital role in reducing ticks in the region and thus prevent KFD deaths,” the DHO said.
He said unlike in other areas of the district, entomologist have to found 50 to 70 ticks in just one place in Aralagodu gram panchayat region. Summer is the peak season for KFD. So, the department is taking all possible measures to control the population of ticks in the region.
Commenting on the risk factors discovered by the Health department officials in the region during the survey, he said, experts from Manipal and other parts of the state visited Aralagodu region where a majority of KFD cases were reported.
“We found that the houses of villagers are in a 100-metre radius of the forest area coming under the purview of the Sharavathy Wildlife Sanctuary, the habitat of ticks. Areca plantations are also situated in the forest region. The prominence of rats in the region is another factor as rats can be termed as reservoir of ticks. And the region is in the backwaters of River Sharavathy. Dampness is an ideal place for ticks.”
“All these factors have made people of the region more susceptible to KFD than others. So, the goal is to reduce ticks as they transmit KFD virus to monkeys and humans.”
Furnishing details about monkeys with KFD virus, Rajesh said the examination has stated that 19 monkeys that were found dead had KFD virus in the district.
As many as 201 KFD positive cases were reported in the district since October last year. But only 10 are confirmed as KFD deaths. So, people need not panic as the department is leaving no stone unturned to prevent KFD deaths.