The First Epidemic of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever in the People's Republic of China

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  • Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, Nanhai Sea-Food Company Hospital, Zhan County, Hainan Provincial Hygiene and Epidemic Prevention Station, Beijing, People's Republic of China

The first epidemic of dengue in China associated with significant severe and fatal hemorrhagic disease which met the World Health Organization case definition occurred on Hainan Island in 1985–1986. The epidemic began in Zhan County in September 1985, spread throughout the coastal areas, and ultimately involved 13 counties and cities of the island in 1986. The mosquito vector was Aedes aegypti. The morbidity associated with dengue infection on Hainan Island was 1,913 per 100,000 residents, with a case fatality rate of 0.25%. Severe disease was more prevalent in the 10–29-year-old age group. Principal clinical features in laboratory-confirmed cases were fever, osteoarthralgia, hemorrhage and/or shock, and thrombocytopenia. Complications such as acute intravascular hemolysis, diffuse intravascular coagulation, hemoconcentration, pleural effusion, altered mentality, and pneumonia were also observed. One hundred twenty-five isolates of dengue 2 virus were recovered from acute-phase serum samples from 278 patients, and 5 strains of this same virus serotype were isolated from 5 pools of adult Ae. aegypti.