Dengue and chikungunya exposure in India higher than first thought

Dengue and chikungunya burden in India more serious than first thought. | Courtesy of
A study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that there are remarkable high rates of exposure to dengue and chikungunya among people living in southern India, a report  published in Thursday's issue of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases said.

Researchers tested blood samples from 1,010 people in Chennai, which is located in South India and is home to more than 6 million people. Test results showed that 44 percent of the people had been exposed to chikungunya and most of the people had been exposed to dengue.

To the surprise of the researchers, very few of these people ever reported having dengue infections. Experts attributed this to the fact that the people didn’t manifest the symptoms or were not diagnosed properly.

Researchers said that the findings emphasize the need for professional health lookouts for these mosquito-borne illnesses as they work toward methods that will control the spread of the diseases in India and around the world.

"Our results show that the extent of the problem has been vastly underestimated," Bloomberg School Department of Epidemiology researcher Isabel Rodriguez-Barraquer said. "People are just not aware of the disease. We asked participants if they had ever been ill with dengue and only 1 percent of them said yes, when in fact 93 percent had been infected by it.”

Further details are available in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

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Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health 615 North Wolfe Street Baltimore, MD - 21205

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