Warning for all Bandipur Forest Trekkers

Risk of Kyasanur Forest Disease

If you are going trekking in the Bandipur Forest in Karnataka State in India, better be sure to have plenty of protection against tick bites, e.g., tick repellent and adequate clothing. There has been an outbreak of Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), which is a tick-borne hemorrhagic fever. This infection can hit both animals, particularly monkeys, and humans.

What is KFD?

Infected ticks transmit the infection. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever and headache, followed by haemorrhagic symptoms, such as bleeding from the nose, throat, and gums, as well as gastrointestinal bleeding.

There is no specific treatment for this infection. Recovery takes about two weeks time, but the convalescent period is typically very long, lasting for several months. There will be muscle aches and weakness that limit physical activities during this period.

Where is KFD?

KFD is uniquely found in five districts of Karnataka in India, including the Bandipur National Park in Chamarajanagar district.

How to prevent tick bites

  1. Use a tick repellent containing 20 to 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. If you have forgotten your insect repellent, forest officials will supply you with tick repellants to help you avoid tick bites.
  2. Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and remains protective for up to 70 washings.
  3. Check your entire body frequently using a mirror for those hard to see places for attached ticks and remove them promptly.
  4. Check your gear for any “passenger” ticks.

There is also a vaccine against this disease. Vaccinations are given mostly in Chikmagalur, Udupi, Dakshina Kannada, Shimoga and Bangalore. Last year, there were 21 suspected cases of KFD and 12 were confirmed by laboratory tests.