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Geographic information system-aided evaluation of epidemiological trends of dengue serotypes in West Bengal, India.

BACKGROUND OBJECTIVES: West Bengal is a dengue-endemic State in India, with all four dengue serotypes in co-circulation. The present study was conceived to determine the changing trends of circulating dengue virus (DENV) serotypes in five consecutive years (2015-2019) using a geographic information system (GIS) during the dengue season in West Bengal, India.

METHODS: Molecular serotyping of dengue NS1 sero-reactive serum samples from individuals with ≤5 days of fever was performed using conventional nested reverse transcriptase-PCR. GIS techniques such as Getis-Ord Gi* hotspot analysis and heatmap were used to elucidate dengue transmission based on the received NS1-positive cases and vector data analysis was used to point out risk-prone areas.

RESULTS: A total of 3915 dengue NS1 sero-positive samples were processed from most parts of West Bengal and among these, 3249 showed RNA positivity. The major circulating serotypes were DENV 3 (63.54%) in 2015, DENV 1 (52.79%) in 2016 and DENV 2 (73.47, 76.04 and 47.15%) in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively. Based on the NS1 positivity, dengue infections were higher in males than females and young adults of 21-30 yr were mostly infected. Getis-Ord Gi* hotspot cluster analysis and heatmap indicate that Kolkata has become a hotspot for dengue outbreaks and serotype plotting on maps confirms a changing trend of predominant serotypes during 2015-2019 in West Bengal.

INTERPRETATION CONCLUSIONS: Co-circulation of all the four dengue serotypes was observed in this study, but only one serotype became prevalent during an outbreak. Representation of NS1-positive cases and serotype distribution in GIS mapping clearly showed serotypic shift in co-circulation. The findings of this study suggest the need for stringent surveillance in dengue-endemic areas to limit the impact of dengue and implement better vector-control strategies.

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