Geographical gradient of mean age of dengue haemorrhagic fever patients in northern Thailand

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Dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) is caused by dengue virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes; mean age of patients varies temporally and geographically. Variability in age of patients may be due to differences in transmission intensity or demographic structure. To compare these two hypotheses, the mean age of DHF patients from 90 districts in northern Thailand (1994–1996, 2002–2004) was regressed against (i) Aedes abundance or (ii) demographic variables (birthrate, average age) of the district. We also developed software to quantify direction and strength of geographical gradients of these variables. We found that, after adjusting for socioeconomics, climate, spatial autocorrelation, the mean age of patients was correlated only with Aedes abundance. The geographical gradient of mean age of patients originated from entomological, climate, and socioeconomic gradients. Vector abundance was a stronger determinant of mean age of patients than demographic variables, in northern Thailand.

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