JOURNAL ARTICLE

Severe dengue virus infection in travelers: risk factors and laboratory indicators

Ole Wichmann, Joaquim Gascon, Mirjam Schunk, Sabino Puente, Heli Siikamaki, Ida Gjørup, Rogelio Lopez-Velez, Joannes Clerinx, Gabriele Peyerl-Hoffmann, Anders Sundøy, Blaise Genton, Peter Kern, Guido Calleri, Miguel de Górgolas, Nikolai Mühlberger, Tomas Jelinek
Journal of Infectious Diseases 2007 April 15, 195 (8): 1089-96
17357044

BACKGROUND: Dengue fever is the most common arboviral disease in travelers. In countries where dengue virus is endemic, sequential (secondary) infections with different dengue virus serotypes are associated with disease severity. Data on severity and secondary infection rates in a population of travelers are lacking.

METHODS: Intensified surveillance of dengue fever in travelers was performed within the European Network on Surveillance of Imported Infectious Diseases. Data were collected at 14 European clinical referral centers between 2003 and 2005.

RESULTS: A total of 219 dengue virus infections imported from various regions of endemicity were reported. Serological analysis revealed a secondary immune response in 17%. Spontaneous bleeding was observed in 17 (8%) patients and was associated with increased serum alanine and aspartate aminotransferase levels and lower median platelet counts. Two (0.9%) patients fulfilled the World Health Organization (WHO) case definition for dengue hemorrhagic fever. However, 23 (11%) travelers had severe clinical manifestations (internal hemorrhage, plasma leakage, shock, or marked thrombocytopenia). A secondary immune response was significantly associated with both spontaneous bleeding and other severe clinical manifestations.

CONCLUSIONS: In travelers, severe dengue virus infections are not uncommon but may be missed if the WHO classification is strictly applied. High liver enzyme levels and low platelet counts could serve as indicators of disease severity.

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