Analyzing disease transmission at the community level

May 28, 2012

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found evidence of a role for neighborhood immunity in determining risk of dengue infection. While it is established that immunity can be an important factor in the large-scale distribution of disease, this study demonstrates that local variation at spatial scales of just a few hundred meters can significantly alter the risk of infection, even in a highly mobile and dense urban population with significant immunity. The study is published in May 28 edition of the journal PNAS.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease that infects nearly 50 million people worldwide each year, resulting in more than 19,000 deaths. There are four serotypes of dengue virus (DENV1) circulating in Bangkok, Thailand, where the study was conducted. Infection with dengue provides lifelong immunity to the infecting serotype and there is evidence infection temporarily protects from infection by other serotypes. When susceptibility to other serotypes returns there is an increased risk for severe disease. For the study, the research team used the household location of 1,912 confirmed dengue cases in Bangkok that were admitted to a local children's hospital between 1995 and 2000. The available data enabled the researchers to pair dengue serotype infections with specific households.

Observations indicated that immunological memory of dengue serotypes occurs at the neighborhood level in this large urban setting. The researchers developed methods that have broad application to studying the spatiotemporal structure of where pathogen or is known.

"We observe patterns of spatiotemporal dependence consistent with the expected impacts of lifelong and short-term immunity, and immune enhancement of disease at distances of under one kilometer," said Henrik Salje, lead author of the study and doctoral candidate in the Bloomberg School's Department of Epidemiology.

"By providing insight into the potential spatial scales that immunity in a population is correlated and distances over which the is dispersed, these findings can help us further understand how is being maintained in endemic populations," said the study's senior author, Derek Cummings, PhD, assistant professor with the Bloomberg School's departments of Epidemiology and International Health.

Explore further: Study details how dengue infection hits harder the second time around

More information: "Revealing the microscale spatial signature of dengue transmission and immunity in an urban population" by Henrik Salje, et al. PNAS.

Related Stories

Study details how dengue infection hits harder the second time around

December 21, 2011
One of the most vexing challenges in the battle against dengue virus, a mosquito-borne virus responsible for 50-100 million infections every year, is that getting infected once can put people at greater risk for a more severe ...

Dengue virus turns on mosquito genes that make them hungrier

March 29, 2012
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have, for the first time, shown that infection with dengue virus turns on mosquito genes that makes them hungrier and better feeders, and therefore possibly ...

Researchers identify Achilles heel of dengue virus, target for future vaccines

April 11, 2012
A team of scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Vanderbilt University have pinpointed the region on dengue virus that is neutralized in people who overcome infection with the deadly pathogen. ...

Recommended for you

Newly discovered viral marker could help predict flu severity in infected patients

October 20, 2017
Flu viruses contain defective genetic material that may activate the immune system in infected patients, and new research published in PLOS Pathogens suggests that lower levels of these molecules could increase flu severity.

H7N9 influenza is both lethal and transmissible in animal model for flu

October 19, 2017
In 2013, an influenza virus that had never before been detected began circulating among poultry in China. It caused several waves of human infection and in late 2016, the number of people to become sick from the H7N9 virus ...

Flu simulations suggest pandemics more likely in spring, early summer

October 19, 2017
New statistical simulations suggest that Northern Hemisphere flu pandemics are most likely to emerge in late spring or early summer at the tail end of the normal flu season, according to a new study published in PLOS Computational ...

New insights into herpes virus could inform vaccine development

October 18, 2017
A team of scientists has discovered new insights into the mechanisms of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, as well as two antibodies that block the virus' entry into cells. The findings, published in Proceedings of the National ...

Pair of discoveries illuminate new paths to flu and anthrax treatments

October 17, 2017
Two recent studies led by biologists at the University of California San Diego have set the research groundwork for new avenues to treat influenza and anthrax poisoning.

Portable 3-D scanner assesses patients with elephantiasis

October 17, 2017
An estimated 120 million people worldwide are infected with lymphatic filariasis, a parasitic, mosquito-borne disease that can cause major swelling and deformity of the legs, a condition known as elephantiasis. Health-care ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.