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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


VALDES, Luis et al. The epidemiology of dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever in Santiago de Cuba, 1997. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1999, vol.6, n.1, pp.16-25. ISSN 1680-5348.

A dengue epidemic that Cuba reported in 1997 registered more than 500 000 cases of dengue fever produced by viral serotype 1. In 1981, there was an epidemic of dengue hemorrhagic fever produced by serotype 2 of the virus. This time 344 203 clinical cases were reported, 10 312 of which were severe cases of hemorragic fever that led to 158 fatalities (101 of them among children). The reintroduction of dengue, and specifically of dengue viral serotype 2 (Jamaica genotype), was quickly detected in January 1997 through an active surveillance system with laboratory confirmation of cases in the municipality of Santiago de Cuba, in the province of the same name. The main epidemiological features of this outbreak are reported in this paper. A total of 3 012 cases were reported and serologically confirmed. These included 205 cases classified as dengue hemorrhagic fever/dengue shock syndrome (DHF/DSS), 12 of which were case fatalities (all among adults). Secondary infection with dengue virus was one of the most important risk factors for DHF/DSS. Ninety-eight percent of the DHF/DSS cases and 92% of the fatal cases had contracted a secondary infection. It was the first time dengue hemorrhagic fever was documented as a secondary infection 16 to 20 years after initial infection. Belonging to the white racial group was another important risk factor for DHF/DSS, as had been observed during the 1981 epidemic. During the most recent epidemic it was demonstrated that the so called “fever alert” is not useful for early detection of an epidemic. Measures taken by the country’s public health officials prevented spread of the epidemic to other municipalities plagued by Aedes aegypti.

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