Monday, April 18, 2011

Dengue fever's growing range and virulence

Emory disease ecologist Gonzalo Vazquez-Prokopec writes about the growing threat of the dengue virus, for the journal Future Microbiology:

We are still losing our global battle against dengue virus (DENV). After half a century since the beginning of its rampant spread, and despite decades of continued vector control efforts, DENV has re-emerged to become the most important human mosquito-borne viral infection. Currently, approximately 70–100 million cases of classic DENV infection are reported every year (most of them in tropical and subtropical countries), with an estimated 2.1 million cases of life-threatening disease in the form of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever/Dengue Shock Syndrome. Over the last two decades, the number of dengue fever epidemics has increased exponentially, and the dramatic range expansion of the endemic and hyper-endemic areas is indisputable. Moreover, the global incidence of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever and Dengue Shock Syndrome has increased 30-fold since the 1950s, and both severe manifestations are a leading cause of hospitalization in parts of Southeast Asia.

Increases in human population, rapid and unplanned urbanization, and human travel have contributed to the resurgence and spread of DENV infections. However, it is the inadequacy of our current tools to combat the virus carrying mosquito vectors and the virus itself, together with our limited understanding of the biological, social and behavioral dimensions of virus transmission that have contributed most to our inability to contain this dengue pandemic. New approaches, tools, and methods for dengue control and prevention are desperately needed.

Read the whole article in Future Microbiology.

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