Dengue Epidemics Curtailed by COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in measurable disruptions in infectious disease dynamics such as dengue, an expanding acute public health threat in southeast Asia and Latin America.
The peer-review journal The Lancet published a study on March 4, 2022, that reported COVID-19-related disruption led to historically low dengue incidence in most countries in 2020.
This study showed the sudden decline in dengue cases in April 2020 was associated with the sudden changes in human movement behaviors.
These researchers found that school closures and declines in non-residential trips are strongly associated with reduced dengue risk.
Combined, they estimated about 720,000 (95% CI 0·12–1·47) fewer dengue cases in 2020.
‘It remains to be seen how many of these dengue cases are truly averted or just delayed until later years as pre-COVID-19 human movement behaviors re-establish,’ wrote these researchers.
‘Theoretically, COVID-19-related disruption could increase or decrease dengue transmission through mechanisms such as mosquito control disruption, reduced human movement restricting geographical spread, and reduced time spent in high-risk non-residential environments.’
‘These hypothetical changes in risk would probably act over different timescales, with reducing time in high-risk environments leading to the most immediate reductions, whereas restricting spread and disruption to mosquito control could take 1–3 months to have substantial effects.’
‘This mixture of effects might explain why we estimate varying levels of protection at different lags,’ concluded this study.
The U.S. CDC says dengue is endemic in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.
And Puerto Rico's Department of Health Arboviral Disease indicates that 574 confirmed, 261 related hospitalizations, 73 severe cases, and two dengue deaths were reported in 2021.
To alert international travelers of their health risk, the CDC issued a Watch - Level 1 Travel Advisory on February 23, 2022.
The U.S. FDA authorized the Dengvaxia vaccine for limited use on May 1, 2019, for people with laboratory-confirmed previous dengue infection and living in endemic areas.
The CDC's vaccine committee recently presented updated dengue vaccine considerations on June 24, 2021.
Study Funding: National Key Research and Development Program of China and the Medical Research Council. No research conflicts of interest were disclosed.
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Note: This news article is an aggregation for various reports and has been edited to present for mobile readers.