The Karnataka government has decided to form a committee to investigate the outbreak of the Kyasanur Forest Disease, or monkey fever, in Sagar taluk, The News Minute reported on Sunday. Six people have died and 18 people have tested positive for the disease in Aralagodu Gram Panchayat limits since December. Two of the six people died at a private hospital in Shivamogga on Saturday.

State Minister for Health and Family Welfare Shivananda Patil on Sunday said the committee would submit its recommendations on bettering the health infrastructure in the area, The Hindu reported.

“The committee will comprise a retired dean of a medical college, a retired IAS officer, and a retired judge,” Patil said. “They will prepare a report after conducting field visits and interacting with all stakeholders, including officials of the Health and Family Welfare and Forest departments and residents of areas where the outbreak was reported.”

Kyasanur Forest Disease – named after the forest in the state where it was first detected – is caused by a virus of the Flaviviridae virus family. The disease, which has no cure, spreads through the bite of ticks called Haemaphysalis Spinigera. Infected monkeys serve as blood meal for these ticks, which in turn bite humans.

The initial symptoms are chills, fever and headache. As the disease progresses, the infected person experiences severe muscle pains with vomiting, gastrointestinal symptoms and bleeding, accompanied by abnormally low blood pressure and low platelet, red blood cell and white blood cell counts.

Some patients recover in about two weeks. Others relapse into a second bout of fever accompanied by mental disturbance, impaired vision and tremors. The disease is fatal in 2%-10% of cases. Patients are given supportive therapy such as hydration and measures to prevent bleeding.