Prevalence of dengue virus infection in US travelers who have lived in or traveled to dengue-endemic countries

Carolina Sanchez-Vegas, Davidson H Hamer, Lin H Chen, Mary E Wilson, Christine Benoit, Elizabeth Hunsperger, William B Macleod, Emily S Jentes, Winnie W Ooi, Adolf W Karchmer, Laura Kogelman, Emad Yanni, Nina Marano, Elizabeth D Barnett
Journal of Travel Medicine 2013, 20 (6): 352-60

BACKGROUND: Dengue virus (DENV) infections may occur in travelers.

OBJECTIVES: To determine prevalence of anti-DENV IgG antibody in travelers who lived in or visited dengue-endemic countries and to describe risk factors and characteristics associated with infection and subsequent anti-DENV IgG antibody presence.

METHODS: Participants were enrolled from travel clinics of the Boston Area Travel Medicine Network from August 2008 through June 2009. Demographic information, trip duration, travel history, and a blood sample were collected. Serum samples were tested for anti-DENV IgG antibody by indirect IgG enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and antibody-mediated virus neutralization by plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT) for anti-DENV IgG antibody-positive and selected negative samples. Participants were stratified into group 1: born in dengue-endemic countries; group 2: born in nonendemic countries but lived continuously for ≥1 year in a dengue-endemic country; group 3: born in nonendemic countries and traveled to a dengue-endemic country for ≥2 weeks but <1 year.

RESULTS: Six hundred travelers were enrolled. Anti-DENV IgG antibody was identified in 113 (19%) when tested by ELISA (51% in group 1, 40% in group 2, and 6.9% in group 3) and in 71 (12%) by PRNT (42% primary monotypic and 58% heterotypic reactive responses). Sensitivity and specificity of the ELISA based on PRNT results were 85% to 100% and 79% to 94%, assuming up to 15% misclassification of ELISA negative results. Presence of anti-DENV IgG antibody by ELISA was associated with years lived in dengue-endemic countries and birthplace in the Caribbean for group 1, receipt of Japanese encephalitis vaccine in group 3, and self-reported history of dengue in all three groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Nineteen percent of participants who were born, lived in, or traveled to dengue-endemic countries had anti-DENV IgG antibody by ELISA; 12% had antibodies by PRNT, 85% of whom had no history of dengue. Presence of DENV antibodies was associated with years lived in dengue-endemic countries and self-reported history of dengue.

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