Kyasanur forest disease (KFD) – named after the forest in which it originated – is a tick-borne haemorrhagic disease with a fatality rate of around 5%. Also known as "monkey fever", it was first discovered in 1957 after an outbreak in Shivamogga, the district of Karnataka in which Aralagodu is also situated.
In the following decades, recurring outbreaks remained largely confined to the area. But in recent years, the disease has begun to spread, with cases popping up for the first time in 2013 in the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, followed by Goa in 2015 and Maharashtra in 2016.
Still, the disease barely registers on global health watchlists; outbreaks largely occur in rural areas bordering forest land and affect a tiny percentage of India's population. But the spread of the disease is indicative of a much larger, more worrying trend, as highlighted most recently by the Covid-19 pandemic: the increasing likelihood of zoonotic disease spilling over into human populations.