Geographical structure of dengue transmission and its determinants in Thailand

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Expansion of dengue has been attributed to urbanization. To test this concept, we examined dengue transmission intensities in Thailand. We used the inverse of mean age of dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) cases as a surrogate of dengue transmission intensity (or force of infection). The transmission intensity in Bangkok decreased rapidly since the mid-1990s, to levels that are currently lower than in other regions. Regression analysis revealed that transmission intensity is highest in the Northeastern rural region, mainly due to scarcity of private water wells. Private wells reduce the need for household water containers, the major breeding sites for vectors. Cumulatively, these results show that urbanization is not necessarily associated with intense dengue transmission in Thailand. Paradoxically, the DHF incidence in Bangkok has surpassed other regions despite declines in transmission intensity. This finding implies the existence of endemic stability (i.e. low incidence of a clinical illness in spite of high transmission intensity).

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