Published online Feb 12, 2017. doi: 10.5501/wjv.v6.i1.9
Peer-review started: October 11, 2016
First decision: November 14, 2016
Revised: November 24, 2016
Accepted: December 7, 2016
Article in press: December 9, 2016
Published online: February 12, 2017
Dengue is one of the most common arthropod-borne viral diseases in humans and it is a leading cause of illness and death in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It is thought to account for 400 million cases annually among approximately 3.97 billion people at risk of infection in 128 endemic countries. Despite the global prevalence of the disease, the availability of a vaccine is limited in most countries in the endemic areas. Most endemic countries in South America, South East Asia and Africa serve as attractive touristic sites for people from non-endemic countries who become infected and export the virus to dengue-free regions. Dengue fever typically resembles malaria and in endemic countries most cases of dengue are treated as presumptive malaria. Consequently, routine dengue diagnosis among persons with fever will offer early treatment and reduce the burden of the disease. Also, routine testing among travellers from endemic countries will reduce importation and prevent the geographical expansion of dengue. In this essay, we seek to highlight the usefulness of routine dengue testing in endemic countries.
Core tip: Dengue is an emerging arborvirus infection currently endemic in 128 countries in the world. In the absence of routine vaccination and specific antivirals, the main method to reduce the burden of dengue is to reduce the vector population, educate people on protective measures and timely laboratory identification. Unfortunately this routine laboratory investigation is currently neglected in most endemic countries and most cases of fevers are often misconstrued as malaria. This review provides a comprehensive summary of dengue infection and highlights the fact that routine dengue diagnosis will reduce the burden and global expansion of dengue.