Notes From the Field: Prevalence of Previous Dengue Virus Infection Among Children and Adolescents — U.S. Virgin Islands, 2022

Valerie V. Mac, PhD1,2,*; Joshua M. Wong, MD1,3,*; Hannah R. Volkman, PhD3; Janice Perez-Padilla, MPH3; Brian Wakeman, PhD4; Mark Delorey, PhD3; Brad J. Biggerstaff, PhD3; Anna Fagre, DVM, PhD1,3; Annellie Gumbs2; Aubrey Drummond2; Brenae Zimmerman, MPH2; Briana Lettsome, MPH2; Freddy A. Medina, PhD3; Gabriela Paz-Bailey, MD, PhD3; Marlon Lawrence, PhD2; Brett Ellis, PhD2; Hannah G. Rosenblum, MD1; Jamaal Carroll2; Joseph Roth, DrPH2; Janelle Rossington2; Jessica R. Meeker, PhD1; Joy Joseph2; Julia Janssen, MD1; Lisa Laplace Ekpo, DrPH2; Monifa Carrillo2; Niurka Hernandez2; Patricia Charles2; Rafael Tosado, PhD3; Raymond Soto, PhD1,3; Shanice Battle, PhD1; Stephen M. Bart, PhD1; Valentine Wanga, PhD1; Wilfredo Valentin2; Winifred Powell2; Zula Battiste2; Esther M. Ellis, PhD2; Laura E. Adams, DVM3 (View author affiliations)

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In May 2019, the Food and Drug Administration issued approval for Dengvaxia (Sanofi Pasteur), a live-attenuated, chimeric tetravalent dengue vaccine (1). In June 2021, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended vaccination with Dengvaxia for children and adolescents aged 9–16 years with laboratory confirmation of previous dengue virus infection and who live in areas with endemic dengue transmission, such as the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) (2). Confirming previous dengue virus infection before vaccine administration (prevaccination screening) is important because 1) although Dengvaxia decreases hospitalization and severe disease from dengue among persons with a previous infection, it increases the risk for these outcomes among persons without a previous infection; 2) many dengue virus infections are asymptomatic; and 3) many patients with symptomatic infections do not seek medical attention or receive appropriate testing (3). Sufficient laboratory evidence of previous dengue virus infection includes a history of laboratory-confirmed dengue§ or a positive serologic test result that meets ACIP-recommended performance standards for prevaccination screening, defined as high specificity (≥98%) and sensitivity (≥75%). A seroprevalence of 20% in the vaccine-eligible population (corresponding to a positive predictive value of ≥90% for a test with minimum sensitivity of 75% and minimum specificity of 98%) is recommended to maximize vaccine safety and minimize the risk for vaccinating persons without a previous dengue virus infection (2).

The USVI Department of Health (VIDOH) requested assistance from CDC to determine the prevalence of previous dengue virus infection in children and adolescents within the age range eligible for dengue vaccination. During April–May 2022, a serosurvey was conducted that included children and adolescents in grades 3–7 enrolled in 15 schools. Schools were selected either through a one-stage cluster sampling design (10 schools) stratified by the two health districts in USVI (St. Thomas/St. John or St. Croix) with inclusion probabilities proportional to the size of third grade enrollment or through direct selection by VIDOH (five schools). All children and adolescents in the eligible grade levels at the selected schools were invited to participate. Children and adolescents with parental permission received testing for previous dengue virus infection using a dengue immunoglobin G rapid diagnostic test with 89.6% sensitivity and 95.7% specificity from approximately 5 μL of whole blood obtained by fingerstick (CDC, unpublished data, 2022). Design weights were computed from 10,000 simulations of the inclusion methodology, and then adjusted by raking to the two districts’ estimated population age and sex distributions from the 2022 U.S. Census Bureau population estimates. Weighted estimates of seroprevalence and 95% CIs were adjusted to reflect screening test performance. This activity was reviewed by CDC and was conducted consistent with applicable federal law and CDC policy.

Among 372 children and adolescents who received testing, 218 (59%) received a negative result, 152 (41%) received a positive result, and two received an indeterminate result (Table). Estimated seroprevalence was similar for males and females. The estimated seroprevalence was lowest in children aged 8 years (27%), and highest in those aged 12 years (69%). Seroprevalence was estimated to be higher in St. Thomas/St. John than in St. Croix. Among children and adolescents aged 9–13 years, the age group eligible for the dengue vaccine, estimated seroprevalence was 51%.

Dengue seroprevalence in USVI among age groups eligible for vaccination exceeds the 20% threshold that corresponds to a positive predictive value of ≥90% when implementing prevaccination screening with a test meeting ACIP-recommended performance standards. Dengue vaccination with prevaccination screening should be considered as part of a comprehensive dengue control and prevention strategy in USVI (3). Other U.S. jurisdictions with endemic transmission of dengue virus should evaluate the risks, benefits, and feasibility of incorporating the dengue vaccine into their local vaccine schedule and consider serosurveys to guide this evaluation.


Ginjah Battiste, Janney Ferrol-Hawley, Cosme Harrison, Jordan Lake, Andra Prosper; staff members, families, and students of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education and participating private schools.

Corresponding author: Joshua M. Wong,

1Epidemic Intelligence Service, CDC; 2U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health; 3Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC; 4Laboratory Leadership Service, CDC.

All authors have completed and submitted the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors form for disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. No potential conflicts of interest were disclosed.

* These authors contributed equally to this report.


45 C.F.R. part 46, 21 C.F.R. part 56; 42 U.S.C. Sect. 241(d); 5 U.S.C. Sect. 552a; 44 U.S.C. Sect. 3501 et seq.


  1. Food and Drug Administration. Vaccines, blood & biologics: Dengvaxia. Silver Spring, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration; 2019. Accessed March 10, 2023.
  2. Paz-Bailey G, Adams L, Wong JM, et al. Dengue vaccine: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, United States, 2021. MMWR Recomm Rep 2021;70(No. RR-6):1–16. PMID:34978547
  3. Wong JM, Adams LE, Durbin AP, et al. Dengue: a growing problem with new interventions. Pediatrics 2022;149:e2021055522 PMID:35543085
TABLE. Estimated seroprevalence of dengue virus immunoglobin G antibodies among children and adolescents aged 8–13 years, by sex, age, and health district — U.S. Virgin Islands, April–May 2022Return to your place in the text
Characteristic Children and adolescents Estimated seroprevalence,* % (95% CI)
No. who received testing No. with positive test results
Total 372 152 47 (29–68)
Female 204 87 50 (22–80)
Male 168 65 45 (31–59)
Age, yrs
8 56 14 27 (17–39)
9 76 28 41 (16–71)
10 100 39 42 (26–60)
11 52 20 50 (24–77)
12 58 36 69 (45–88)
13 30 15 54 (18–89)
Health district
St. Croix 192 64 34 (21–50)
St. Thomas/St. John 180 88 59 (30–86)

* Percentage estimates were weighted and standardized to the age and sex of the 2022 U.S. Census Bureau population estimated distribution across the two districts.
Test results were indeterminate for two children.

Suggested citation for this article: Mac VV, Wong JM, Volkman HR, et al. Notes From the Field: Prevalence of Previous Dengue Virus Infection Among Children and Adolescents — U.S. Virgin Islands, 2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2023;72:288–289. DOI:

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