Background: Dengue viruses are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in tropical and subtropical areas. Our aim was to assess prospectively the burden of dengue-related illness in children in Thailand. Methods: We did a prospective study in a cohort of children at primary school in northern Thailand from 1998 to 2002. We assessed the burden of dengue illness as disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and patient costs per illness. Findings: Dengue accounted for 328 (11%) of the 3056 febrile cases identified in 2114 children during the study period. The mean burden of dengue was 465·3 (SD 358·0; range 76·5-954·0) DALYs per million population per year, accounting for about 15% of DALYs lost to all febrile illnesses (3213·1 [SD 2624·2] DALYs per million per year). Non-hospitalised patients with dengue illnesses represented a substantial proportion of the overall burden of disease, with 44-73% of the total DALYs lost to dengue each year due to such illness. The infecting dengue serotype was an important determinant of DALYs lost: DEN4 was responsible for 1% of total DALYs lost, DEN1 for 9%, DEN2 for 30%, and DEN3 for 29%. Interpretation: Use of prospective data to estimate the burden of disease shows that most DALYs lost to dengue illness were the result of non-hospitalised illnesses of long duration. Thus, inclusion of non-hospitalised cases is critical to accurately assess the total burden of dengue illness.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Martin Meltzer for his technical expertise in the calculation of DALYs. We thank the staff at the Department of Virology, Armed Forcers Research Institute of Medical Science (Bangkok, Thailand) for their careful diagnostic testing and data collection and entry. We acknowledge the support of the Office of the Provincial Public Health, Kamphaeng Phet province and the clinical research nurses at AFRIMS and the support staff at the Kamphaeng Phet Field Station for all their efforts. This project and publication was made possible by NIH Grant AI34533 and the United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Ft Detrick, MD, USA. The opinions expressed in this manuscript do not necessarily represent the official views of the US National Institutes of Health, the US Department of Defense, or the US Department of the Army.
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