Epidemiology of dengue: past, present and future prospects
Natasha Evelyn Anne Murray,1,2 Mikkel B Quam,1 Annelies Wilder-Smith1,3
1Institute of Public Health, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany; 2Population Health, Waikato District Health Board, Hamilton, New Zealand; 3Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Abstract: Dengue is currently regarded globally as the most important mosquito-borne viral disease. A history of symptoms compatible with dengue can be traced back to the Chin Dynasty of 265–420 AD. The virus and its vectors have now become widely distributed throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world, particularly over the last half-century. Significant geographic expansion has been coupled with rapid increases in incident cases, epidemics, and hyperendemicity, leading to the more severe forms of dengue. Transmission of dengue is now present in every World Health Organization (WHO) region of the world and more than 125 countries are known to be dengue endemic. The true impact of dengue globally is difficult to ascertain due to factors such as inadequate disease surveillance, misdiagnosis, and low levels of reporting. Currently available data likely grossly underestimates the social, economic, and disease burden. Estimates of the global incidence of dengue infections per year have ranged between 50 million and 200 million; however, recent estimates using cartographic approaches suggest this number is closer to almost 400 million. The expansion of dengue is expected to increase due to factors such as the modern dynamics of climate change, globalization, travel, trade, socioeconomics, settlement and also viral evolution. No vaccine or specific antiviral therapy currently exists to address the growing threat of dengue. Prompt case detection and appropriate clinical management can reduce the mortality from severe dengue. Effective vector control is the mainstay of dengue prevention and control. Surveillance and improved reporting of dengue cases is also essential to gauge the true global situation as indicated in the objectives of the WHO Global Strategy for Dengue Prevention and Control, 2012–2020. More accurate data will inform the prioritization of research, health policy, and financial resources toward reducing this poorly controlled disease. The objective of this paper is to review historical and current epidemiology of dengue worldwide and, additionally, reflect on some potential reasons for expansion of dengue into the future.
Keywords: evolution, geographic expansion, travel, climate change
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