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OUTBREAK OF DENGUE FEVER IN PALAU, WESTERN PACIFIC: RISK FACTORS FOR INFECTION

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  • 1 Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, Colorado; Palau Ministry of Health, Koror, Palau; Navy Disease Vector Ecology and Control Center, Alameda, California

Between January and June 1995, an outbreak of dengue fever occurred in Palau, an island nation of 32,000 inhabitants in the Western Pacific. To determine the magnitude of this outbreak and to determine modifiable risk factors to guide control strategies, we established active surveillance at the national hospital and private clinics, reviewed available clinical records, and conducted serologic and entomologic surveys. Between January 1 and July 1, 1995, 817 case-patients with acute febrile illness with body or joint aches and one of the following: headache, rash, nausea, vomiting, or hemorrhagic manifestations presented to health facilities in Palau. The epidemic peaked in the second week of April 1995. Of 338 case-patients tested, 254 (75%) had positive serologic results by an IgM capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Dengue 4 virus was isolated from 78 (51%) of 154 serum samples tested. Blood samples collected during a cross-sectional survey were tested for IgM antibody and yielded an attack ratio of 27% (95% confidence interval = 23–31%). Potential vectors included the introduced species Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus, and the native species Ae. hensilli. Significant risk factors (P ≤ 0.05) for infection included age < 20 years, the presence of food or water pans for animals on the property, taro farming, the presence of Ae. aegypti on the property, and presence of Ae. scutellaris group mosquitoes (Ae. Hensilli, Ae. albopictus, and a native species). This was the first outbreak of dengue 4 virus in the Western Pacific, and the first documented epidemic of dengue in Palau since 1988.

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