The Effects of Tertiary and Quaternary Infections on the Epidemiology of Dengue
The epidemiology of dengue is characterised by irregular epidemic outbreaks and desynchronised dynamics of its four co-circulating virus serotypes. Whilst infection by one serotype appears to convey life-long protection to homologous infection, it is believed to be a risk factor for severe disease manifestations upon secondary, heterologous infection due to the phenomenon of Antibody-Dependent Enhancement (ADE). Subsequent clinical infections are rarely reported and, since the majority of dengue infections are generally asymptomatic, it is not clear if and to what degree tertiary or quaternary infections contribute to dengue epidemiology. Here we investigate the effect of third and subsequent infections on the transmission dynamics of dengue and show that although the qualitative patterns are largely equivalent, the system more readily exhibits the desynchronised serotype oscillations and multi-annual epidemic outbreaks upon their inclusion. More importantly, permitting third and fourth infections significantly increases the force of infection without resorting to high basic reproductive numbers. Realistic age-prevalent patterns and seroconversion rates are therefore easier reconciled with a low value of dengue’s transmission potential if allowing for more than two infections; this should have important consequences for dengue control and intervention measures.
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