Research to map areas at risk of KFD infection begins

₹33 lakh allocated for study by Kannur University scholar

With frequent cases of Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) being reported from areas adjoining forests in Wayanad district in recent years, a research programme to map potential areas of risk, using field data and modelling techniques, has begun.

The research, funded by the Science and Engineering Research Board, would be carried out by Assistant Professor Joseph J. Erinjery of the Department of Zoology of the Manathavady campus of Kannur University.

500 cases

Around 500 cases of KFD were being reported in South India every year, Mr. Erinjery told The Hindu.

Many cases had been reported in Karnataka too.

Zoonotic diseases had claimed human lives and affected the health of many people around the world in the past few decades. The increase of forest frontier areas due to agricultural expansion and other human activities was one of the major reasons for the increase in such diseases, he explained

Increasing forest frontiers had resulted in a corresponding rise in human-wildlife contacts, and due to this, many diseases from wildlife were spreading to humans.

Information regarding human movement and behaviour associated with land use, animal and vector behaviour were required to determine the risk areas of zoonotic diseases.

However, such studies were rarely conducted to identify the risk areas of any particular zoonotic disease, said Mr. Erinjery

KFD that spreads along forest fringes of the Western Ghats offers an opportunity for such a study, he said.

Mr. Erinjery said that the disease spread to humans mainly through infected tick bites.

The ticks that bite sick or dead primates act as hosts to the KFD virus. It mostly affected people who came in close contact with the forest such as farmers, herders, and forest guards, he said.


The study spanning over two years, with a fund allocation of ₹33 lakh from the Science and Engineering Research Board, would use socio-ecological modelling, species distribution modelling, and agent-based modelling techniques to produce maps of high-risk areas, he explained.

The results would help in formulating vaccination programmes and adopting preventive measures in high-risk areas in the Western Ghats and would provide a baseline for several such studies on zoonotic diseases in forest frontiers, said Mr. Erinjery.

Source: Read Full Article