Dengue, also known as dengue fever, is a viral disease transmitted to humans by mosquitoes of the genus Aedes. The incidence of dengue is currently increasing dramatically, and it is now one of the diseases said to be re-emerging. In Bangladesh, sporadic cases were reported in the 1960s and a major outbreak occurred in 2000, with clinical cases reported annually since then. However, the burden of dengue is unclear. Researchers at the Institut Pasteur have conducted a study to determine the burden of dengue in Bangladesh and identify key risk factors for infection.
Dengue virus continues to infect millions of people each year, with resource poor countries often disproportionally affected. In order to direct precious resources to tackle the virus in the most efficient way, researchers at the Institut Pasteur, in collaboration with teams at Johns Hopkins University, icddr,b and the Bangladesh Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, wanted to know where the risk is the greatest and identify subsets of the population at increased risk. However, this is rarely known, especially in settings with limited surveillance capabilities. For example, in Bangladesh, where the study was performed, there was essentially no understanding of where dengue virus circulated outside of the capital Dhaka.
“In this context, seroprevalence studies can help. Once infected, individuals develop long-lived antibodies that can be detected by specific tests” explains Henrik Salje, head of the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases Group at the Institut Pasteur. However, seroprevalence studies are nearly only done in single places, which means their findings are unlikely to be applicable to the wider population. By contrast, in this study, the researchers visited 70 different communities from all around Bangladesh, and invited over 5,000 individuals of all ages to provide blood samples, which were tested for evidence of dengue antibodies. They also asked individuals about themselves, including their age, sex and travel history, and trapped mosquitoes.
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