Seroepidemiology of Asymptomatic Dengue Virus Infection in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Jamjoom, Ghazi A.; Azhar, Esam I.; Kao, Moujahid A.; Radadi, Raja M.
January 2016
Virology: Research & Treatment;2016, Vol. 7, p1
Academic Journal
BACKGROUND: Although virologically confirmed dengue fever has been recognized in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, since 1994, causing yearly outbreaks, no proper seroepidemiologic studies on dengue virus have been conducted in this region. Such studies can define the extent of infection by this virus and estimate the proportion that may result in disease. The aim of this study was to measure the seroprevalence of past dengue virus infection in healthy Saudi nationals from different areas in the city of Jeddah and to investigate demographic and environmental factors that may increase exposure to infection. METHODS: Sera were collected from 1984 Saudi subjects attending primary health care centers in six districts of Jeddah. These included general patients of various ages seeking routine vaccinations, antenatal care or treatment of different illnesses excluding fever or suspected dengue. A number of blood donors were also tested. Serum samples were tested by enzyme immunoassay (EIA) for IgG antibodies to dengue viruses 1, 2, 3, 4. A questionnaire was completed for each patient recording various anthropometric data and factors that may indicate possible risk of exposure to mosquito bites and dengue infection. Patients with missing data and those who reported a history of dengue fever were excluded from analysis, resulting in a sample of 1939 patients to be analyzed. RESULTS: The overall prevalence of dengue virus infection as measured by anti-dengue IgG antibodies from asymptomatic residents in Jeddah was 47.8% (927/1939) and 37% (68/184) in blood donors. Infection mostly did not result in recognizable disease, as only 19 of 1956 subjects with complete information (0.1%) reported having dengue fever in the past. Anti dengue seropositivity increased with age and was higher in males than females and in residents of communal housing and multistory buildings than in villas. One of the six districts showed significant increase in exposure rate as compared to the others. Availability of public sewage was associated with lower infection at a nearly significant level. No other clear risk factors were identifiable. Infection was not related to travel abroad. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate a relatively high exposure of Jeddah residents to infection by dengue viruses, which must be considered endemic to this region. Infection largely remained asymptomatic or was only associated with minor illness for which patients did not seek treatment. These results call for continued vigilance for clinical cases of dengue that may arise from this wide exposure. They also call for more extensive control efforts to reduce exposure to and transmission of dengue viruses.


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