Dengue cases may be four times more common than known

April 7, 2013 by Maria Cheng
A mosquito (species unidentified) is held by tweezers in this file photo dated Wednesday, June 20, 2001, in Portland, Maine, USA. According to new research published online Sunday April 7, 2013, in the journal Nature, the number of infected cases around the world is around 390 million, about four times as many people infected with the tropical disease than was previously believed, although many develop a mild form of the illness and don't need medical attention. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

There may be nearly four times as many people infected with the tropical disease dengue globally than was previously believed, according to a new study.

The has estimated there are about 50 million to 100 million cases of dengue, also known as "break-bone fever," every year. But new research puts the number at around 390 million—though about two-thirds of those people have only and don't need . The study was published online Sunday in the journal Nature.

The data won't change how patients are handled but could prompt a speedier search for a vaccine for the mosquito-borne disease. The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the U.S. and others.

WHO said it wasn't surprised by the higher estimates. "We fully agree the spectrum of dengue is very wide and there was every chance we were missing cases," said Raman Velayudhan, the agency's global dengue coordinator. WHO was not involved in the new research.

"The new numbers are not out of the realm of what was expected," said Jeremy Farrar, director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam, one of the study authors. He said the figures came from analyzing more evidence than was used in the past and included other factors that influence dengue.

A health ministry worker discharges anti-mosquito spray as a preventive measure to control dengue fever, in Sidoarjo, East Java, Indonesia, in this file photo dated Thursday, March 14, 2013. According to new research published online Sunday April 7, 2013, in the journal Nature, the number of infected cases is around 390 million, nearly four times as many people infected with the tropical disease than was previously believed, although many develop a mild form of the illness and don't need medical attention. (AP Photo/Trisnadi, File)

Dengue causes symptoms including fever and severe joint pains. The disease mostly affects people in Asia, Africa and Latin America though it has also recently popped up in parts of Western Europe and the U.S.

There are four kinds of dengue and catching it once doesn't ensure immunity; subsequent infections raise the risk of severe dengue and may include hemorrhaging. The death rate is usually below 1 percent if patients get treated quickly, but can rise to 10 percent if not.

Clarence Tam, an expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said more research was needed on the significance of the nearly 300 million people who have mild dengue.

"Whether these cases are an important source of dengue infection for others is not well known," he said. "But there is clearly more in the world than we thought."

Explore further: WHO: Dengue showing global 'epidemic potential'

More information: Paper: dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature12060

World Health Organization Dengue Fact Sheet: www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs117/en/

Journal reference: Nature search and more info website

shares

Related Stories

WHO: Dengue showing global 'epidemic potential'

January 16, 2013
The World Health Organisation said on Wednesday that it had charted progress in the fight against tropical diseases but warned that dengue fever was spreading at an alarming rate.

Puerto Rico declares dengue epidemic

October 9, 2012
(AP)—Puerto Rico's health department has declared a dengue epidemic.

Suriname hit with dengue epidemic, health ministry says

January 25, 2012
Suriname health authorities confirmed Wednesday that a dengue epidemic has taken hold here, resulting in numerous of people being hospitalized over the past month.

Cuba issues warning about dengue mosquitos

August 16, 2012
Cuban health officials warned Thursday about an increased number of mosquitoes in the country's urban areas that can spread diseases such as dengue fever.

Dengue spreads in Madeira archipelago: officials

October 10, 2012
Dengue has spread in Portugal's Madeira archipelago since it appeared last week and there are now 18 confirmed cases, health officials said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

A new theory on reducing cardiovascular disease risk in binge drinkers

January 23, 2018
A new study shows that binge drinkers have increased levels of a biomarker molecule—microRNA-21—that may contribute to poor vascular function.

Flu infection study increases understanding of natural immunity

January 23, 2018
People with higher levels of antibodies against the stem portion of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) protein have less viral shedding when they get the flu, but do not have fewer or less severe signs of illness, according ...

New long-acting approach for malaria therapy developed

January 22, 2018
A new study, published in Nature Communications, conducted by the University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine highlights a new 'long acting' medicine for the prevention of malaria.

Virus shown to be likely cause of mystery polio-like illness

January 22, 2018
A major review by UNSW researchers has identified strong evidence that a virus called Enterovirus D68 is the cause of a mystery polio-like illness that has paralysed children in the US, Canada and Europe.

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

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.