From May 1983 to January 1984, 517 patients with laboratory confirmed dengue were studied at a hospital in Manila. Secondary dengue infections were diagnosed in 78% of these cases. Peak admission (28%) occurred towards the end of the rainy season in November. Most patients (78%) were <15 years old but only 3 were infants. Although some type of hemorrhagic finding occurred in 460 cases (89%), only 110 were classified as dengue hemorrhagic fever and the remainder as dengue fever with hemorrhagic manifestations. The clinical course was usually mild. Gastrointestinal bleeding was present in 65 cases, but only 2 patients developed shock. No fatalities occurred.
Dengue 2 was the predominant serotype with 53 isolates, followed by dengue 1 with 48 isolates, dengue 3 with 39 isolates, and dengue 4 with only 8 isolates. Dengue 2 was the only serotype with more isolates from sera with a homologous HI antibody titer > 1:20 (57%) than from sera with a homologous HI titer ≤1:20 (43%). In contrast, most of the dengue 1 isolates (63%) were from sera with a homologous HI antibody titer <1:10, and this serotype was strongly associated with primary infections.
This study shows that dengue infections remain an important cause of pediatric hospitalization in the Philippines; however, the occurrence of life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever as has been described in several other large urban areas of Southeast Asia appears to be rare.