Thomas W. Scott

University of California, Davis

Dengue is a human disease caused by a virus that is transmitted from one person to another by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Worldwide, dengue virus infections cause more human morbidity and mortality than any other arthropod-borne virus. It is estimated that 2.5 to 3.0 billion people are at risk of infection each year, and millions have been infected during recent epidemics. Dengue occurs throughout the tropics, where incidence rates have steadily increased since the 1950s. The most severely affected areas are urban centers of Southeast Asia, where dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome (DHF/DSS) are among the leading causes of pediatric hospitalization. During the past 20 years dengue has emerged as a major international public health threat; during that time, changes in dengue epidemiology were most pronounced in the Americas. Epidemics in Cuba and Venezuela during the early 1980s have elevated concern that the progression of dengue outbreaks in the Western Hemisphere is following a pattern similar to that observed in Asia over the past 50 years, putting people in the New World tropics at increased risk for severe, life-threatening disease.

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