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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

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


HALSTEAD, Scott B.. Dengue in the Americas and Southeast Asia: do they differ?. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2006, vol.20, n.6, pp.407-415. ISSN 1680-5348.

The populations of Southeast Asia (SE Asia) and tropical America are similar, and all four dengue viruses of Asian origin are endemic in both regions. Yet, during comparable 5-year periods, SE Asia experienced 1.16 million cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), principally in children, whereas in the Americas there were 2.8 million dengue fever (DF) cases, principally in adults, and only 65 000 DHF cases. This review aims to explain these regional differences. In SE Asia, World War II amplified Aedes aegypti populations and the spread of dengue viruses. In the Americas, efforts to eradicate A. aegypti in the 1940s and 1950s contained dengue epidemics mainly to the Caribbean Basin. Cuba escaped infections with the American genotype dengue-2 and an Asian dengue-3 endemic in the 1960s and 1970s. Successive infections with dengue-1 and an Asian genotype dengue-2 resulted in the 1981 DHF epidemic. When this dengue-2 virus was introduced in other Caribbean countries, it encountered populations highly immune to the American genotype dengue-2. During the 1980s and 1990s, rapidly expanding populations of A. aegypti in Brazil permitted successive epidemics of dengue-1, -2, and -3. These exposures, however, resulted mainly in DF, with surprisingly few cases of DHF. The absence of high rates of severe dengue disease in Brazil, as elsewhere in the Americas, may be partly explained by the widespread prevalence of human dengue resistance genes. Understanding the nature and distribution of these genes holds promise for containing severe dengue. Future research on dengue infections should emphasize population-based designs.

Keywords : Arboviruses; dengue [dengue fever]; dengue hemorrhagic fever; genetics; Americas; Asia [Southeastern].

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