Rural areas more at risk for dengue, study shows

A recent study has shown, in contrast to conventional thinking, that rural areas may be more at risk for outbreaks of dengue fever than urban ones.

The study, conducted by Wolf-Peter Schmidt and his team from the Nagasaki Institute of Tropical Medicine and published in the journal PLoS Medicine, analyzed a population found in the Kanh Hoa province in south-central Vietnam that was subject to two dengue outbreaks in recent years, according to

The team found that those living in low population density areas were up to three times more likely to contract the disease than those living in cities, most likely because the number of mosquitoes that exist per individual is higher.

The study further showed that severe dengue outbreaks occur almost entirely within a narrow range of population densities, especially those with limited access to tap water. Water storage vessels in these areas provide a good breeding site for mosquitoes that carry the disease.

"Ideally, all people should have access to reliable tap water, not only to reduce the burden of dengue but also a range of other diseases associated with inadequate water supply such as diarrhea or trachoma, and to realize important economic benefits," the authors said, reports. "Additional intervention measures in areas with a human population density critical for dengue virus transmission could increase the efficiency of vector control, especially since population density figures are relatively easy to obtain."

The actual number of people in urban areas who contract dengue fever still remains high, meaning that cities contribute greatly to dengue epidemics.