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Dengue is the most rapidly emerging mosquito-borne infection and, due to climate change and unplanned urbanization, it is predicted that the global burden of dengue will rise further as the infection spreads to new geographical locations. Dengue-endemic countries are often unable to cope with such increases, with health care facilities becoming overwhelmed during each dengue season. Furthermore, although dengue has been predominantly a childhood illness in the past, it currently mostly affects adults in many countries, with higher incidence of severe disease and mortality rates in pregnant women and in those with comorbidities. As there is currently no specific treatment for dengue and no early biomarker to identify those who will progress to develop vascular leakage, all individuals with dengue are closely monitored in case they need fluid management. Furthermore, diagnosing patients with acute dengue is challenging due to the similarity of clinical symptoms during early illness and poor sensitivity and specificity of point-of-care diagnostic tests. Novel vector control methods, such as the release of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes, have shown promising results by reducing vector density and dengue incidence in clinical trial settings. A new dengue vaccine, TAK-003, had an efficacy of 61.2% against virologically confirmed dengue, 84.1% efficacy against hospitalizations and a 70% efficacy against development of dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) at 54 months. While vaccines and mosquito control methods are welcome, they alone are unlikely to fully reduce the burden of dengue, and a treatment for dengue is therefore essential. Several novel antiviral drugs are currently being evaluated along with drugs that inhibit host mediators, such as mast cell products. Although viral proteins such as NS1 contribute to the vascular leak observed in severe dengue, the host immune response to the viral infection also plays a significant role in progression to severe disease. There is an urgent need to discover safe and effective treatments for dengue to prevent disease progression.

Original publication




Journal article


PLOS Glob Public Health

Publication Date