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Investigating Social Determinants in Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) Outbreaks

February 22, 2024

photo of woman organizing food in India

Exploring Socioeconomic determinants

A new study, conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign School of Social Work, College of Veterinary Medicine, and the Department of Entomology, delves into the social disparities surrounding Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) outbreaks in India. Since its discovery in 1957, KFD—a tick-borne illness prevalent along the western coast of India—has continued to expand into new areas, yet remains a neglected disease.

Kyasanur Forest Disease virus (KFDV), transmitted primarily by Haemaphysalis spinigera and Haemaphysalis turturis tick species, poses significant health risks to humans, causing symptoms ranging from fever and myalgia to severe hemorrhage and encephalitis. The disease, belonging to the Flaviviridae group of viruses, has been associated with over 9,594 reported cases and 3,314 monkey deaths between 1957 and 2020 within several districts in India’s western coast.

In light of the complex socio-demographic landscape of KFD, the study underscores the importance of examining social determinants of health (SDOH) and sociodemographic factors to understand disease transmission and inform public health interventions effectively. While previous research has primarily focused on KFD virology and epidemiology, limited attention has been given to exploring the socioeconomic determinants and risk factors associated with the disease in India.

The University of Illinois study aims to bridge this gap by leveraging retrospective data analysis to gain insights into the sociodemographic information on KFD cases and deaths in India. By examining publicly available databases containing patients’ social and demographic information, the research sheds light on the impact of these factors on the epidemiology of KFD, paving the way for more targeted public health interventions.

“Understanding the social determinants and sociodemographic factors influencing KFD outbreaks is essential for developing effective prevention and control strategies,” said Flávia Andrade, School of Social Work professor and corresponding author. “Our research underscores the need for comprehensive data examination to address the socio-economic dimensions of KFD and improve health outcomes for affected communities.”

The study represents a significant step forward in advancing our understanding of KFD and addressing the social disparities surrounding its outbreaks in India.

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