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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Florida: University of Florida Study Examines Dengue Infection and Immunity among Children

Dengue fever, a mosquito-borne viral infection, is now endemic to more than 100 countries, and the severe form of the disease is a leading cause of death among children in some Latin American and Asian nations.

Understanding the complex patterns of dengue infection and immunity is difficult because little is known about individual infection history. A University of Florida team, along with colleagues in Nicaragua and the U.S., combined a prospective cohort study of children in Nicaragua with epidemiological surveillance data in the nation to infer the complete exposure history at the individual level for each participant in the cohort. Their findings appear in the journal Nature Communications.

Dengue is caused by one of four closely-related virus serotypes. It is widely accepted that infection with one serotype provides lifetime immunity against that serotype. However, cross-immunity against the other serotypes may be brief and infection by another serotype can put patients at risk for developing severe dengue, a phenomenon known as the antibody-dependent enhancement effect, or ADE. ADE is well known for the risk of severe dengue fever, however, the UF-led research is the first to demonstrate ADE for the risk of infection.

“By dissecting the risk of dengue disease into the risk of infection and the risk of general dengue disease given infection, we found the antibody-dependent enhancement effect applies to the risk of infection as well, but not to the risk of general dengue disease given infection,” said Dr. Yang Yang, an associate professor in the department of biostatistics at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine.

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