Monday, April 8, 2013

Dengue: Over Three Times More Common Than Previously Thought

Aedes aegypti mosquito
Here is a new article on the worldwide incidence of dengue viral infections that was just published by Bhatt and colleagues in Nature.

Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by Aedes aegypti (and Aedes albopictus) mosquitoes; it is the most common mosquito-borne viral infection. It causes an acute febrile illness characterized by severe pain (which gives the disease its colloquial name: "breakbone" fever). Although not associated with high mortality, the disease is nonetheless associated with significant morbidity.

Using worldwide data on dengue incidence as well as statistical modeling, these authors estimate that there are upwards of 390 million dengue infections per year, with approximately one third of people actually having symptomatic disease. Three-hunded and ninety million is a pretty staggering figure (just around 5% of the world's population), and is over three times the estimated annual incidence per the WHO.

Here in the United States, this is definitely an issue "right in our backyards." In recent years we have seen dengue expand into previously unaffected areas, including the southern United States.

The study by Bhatt and colleagues will hopefully further raise awareness about dengue and the need for a coordinated global strategy to combat it.

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