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Working to Protect Against the Dangers of Dengue

CDC researcher Dr. Claire Huang (center) receiving CO-LABS High Impact Research Award from Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper in November 2011

CDC researcher Dr. Claire Huang (center) receiving CO-LABS High Impact Research Award from Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper in November 2011 for her work in developing a dengue vaccine. Pictured L-R are Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD) Director Dr. Lyle Petersen, Governor Hickenlooper, Dr. Huang, vaccine co-developer Dr. Rich Kinney (retired), and DVBD Arbovirus Diseases Branch Chief Dr. Roger Nasci.

Dengue, a painful and sometimes deadly viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, threatens more than 3.5 billion people worldwide. Dengue is endemic in at least 100 countries in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and parts of Africa. As many as 100 million people become infected yearly, and nearly 500,000, mostly children, develop the potentially deadly dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Although dengue is not a new problem, it has emerged as an increasingly critical threat to public health worldwide, resulting in large and serious epidemics. The mosquito vectors of the virus have adapted to living in urban areas so changes in demographics favor transmission. Puerto Rico, for example, had one of its largest recorded epidemics in 2010, with more than 21,000 reported cases. Florida recently reported the first cases of locally acquired dengue in 75 years, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands currently is experiencing its first epidemic since 1989.

As the world has become more accessible and travel becomes more frequent, the risk from dengue viruses has increased. Large numbers of travelers return from dengue-endemic areas to the United States each year, increasing the possibility of introducing the virus to those parts of the United States where the mosquitoes capable of transmitting dengue still thrive.

  • Page last reviewed: March 19, 2014
  • Page last updated: March 19, 2014
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