We are a group of UCL Physics students that, with the support of Prof Nguyễn TK Thanh, has established this platform where we collate and share verified information on dengue. The vision of this project is to inform the public about the methods for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of dengue, as well as become a means to connect with primary stakeholders, including experts and organisations.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection that stems in tropical and subtropical climates. It is the most widespread vector-disease in the world, yielding an estimated 96 million symptomatic cases and 40,000 deaths every year (WHO, 2020, “Dengue and severe dengue”). The dengue virus (DENV) is primarily transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito which breeds in stagnant water and is known to bite during the day (NHS, 2019). Aedes aegypti is also responsible for the transmission of other diseases such as chikungunya and Zika. To learn more about vector-control methods and eradication policies that are being employed to reduce human-mosquito interaction, head over to the ‘Prevention’ tab.
There are four serotypes of DENV (DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 and DENV-4), meaning that a person can potentially be infected a maximum of four times. Achieving immunity in one serotype does not induce adaptive immunity in the other serotypes. However, subsequent contractions of the virus does result in a weakened immune system against different serotypes while still remaining protected against the same serotype. It is this cross-serotype immunity that makes an individual more susceptible to developing severe dengue (WHO, 2020, “Dengue and severe dengue” and WebMD, 2019).
Symptoms of the infection more commonly include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains. In a small proportion of cases, however, patients can develop severe dengue conditions such as hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome (DSS). Despite severe dengue only making up a small proportion of cases, it is still the leading cause of death in regions across Asia and the Americas (WHO, 2020, “Dengue and severe dengue” and NHS, 2019). Further details on current treatment and diagnostic methods are outlined in the ‘Diagnosis’ and ‘Treatment’ tabs, respectively.
The rise of dengue cases and explosive outbreaks has become more frequent over the last decade. The year 2016 was recognised by its large dengue outbreaks with reports of more than 2.38 million cases emerging solely from the Region of the Americas. The largest number of dengue cases reported globally was in the year 2019. In the same year, a staggering 2 million cases were reported in Brazil alone, marking it as the country with the highest number of cases with all four serotypes being prevalent (WHO, 2019, “WHO Region of the Americas records highest number of dengue cases in history; cases spike in other regions”).
Active research is being carried out to increase the efficacy of current treatment and vector-control methods. Forecasting dengue outbreaks mitigates the severity of their impact, and therefore reduces the global dengue burden. In addition to this, early disease detection, combined with necessary medical treatment, has the potential to reduce fatality rates from severe dengue to below 1% (WHO, 2020, “Dengue and severe dengue”). To learn more about experts in the field that are at the forefront of current research methods and policies, click on the ‘Experts’ section under each main tab (Home, Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment).