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The History and Natural History of Dengue Fever

The History and Natural History of Dengue Fever

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Published by: chiquilon749 on Jun 13, 2010
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The History and Natural History of Dengue Fever
The exact origins of the disease are not clear and arguments have been made that itoriginated in Africa and was spread worldwide with the slave trade. The most convincingexplanation for the name dengue is that it is derived from the Swahili "Ka-Dinga pepo" thatdescribes the disease as a sudden cramp like disease caused by an evil spirit. It has alsobeen argued that it originated in the Malay Peninsula of Indochina. Regardless, in the wildthe virus has a life cycle very similar to that of yellow fever involving passing betweenprimates living in the jungle canopy and mosquitoes that feed on them. It is believed thatthe virus was transferred to man by the bite of the tiger-striped mosquito (
 Aedes albopticus
)as man began clearing the jungle and building settlements. The commonest vector is nowthe closely-related mosquito
 Aedes aegypti
which is African in origin but has spreadthroughout the tropics in the Old and New Worlds.The earliest reports of a dengue-like disease are from Chin Dynasty China (265-420 AD).The first rigorously documented outbreaks occurred almost simultaneously in:
Cairo and Alexandria (Egypt, 1799);
Jakarta (the called Batavia, Indonesia, 1799);
Philadelphia (United States, 1780);
Madras (India, 1780).Outbreaks have occurred throughout the temperate and tropical climes since then.The virus was identified in the 1940's when it became a concern to the armies fighting inPacific and Asia as it was causing a large number of non-combat casualties to Allied andJapanese forces. Japanese scientists first identified the virus in 1943 and were quicklyfollowed by U.S. researchers. By 1956 the four serotypes of the virus were identified andevery outbreak of the disease since has been due to a virus belonging to one of the fourserotypes.Work is being done on the development of vaccines against the disease but there arecurrently none proven safe and effective for human use. The primary method of preventingthe spread of the disease is by controlling the mosquito vectors and this has proveneffective and the disease appeared to be on the decline for many years, however it had aresurgence in the 1990's and remains a major public health problem in many areas and thecurrent situation has been designated a global pandemic.The most worrisome aspect of the resurgence is that it has come with an increase in thefrequency and severity of dengue hemorrhagic syndrome, a severe complication of thedisease normally only arising upon re-infection. Typically, when diseases first crossover toman they are at their most severe (syphilis is the prime example of this) and over the yearsthey become less severe as they adapt themselves to a new host. Dengue appears to berunning against the stream, making it a greater public health and weapons threat.Take of: http://www.cbwinfo.com/Biological/Pathogens/DENV.html

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