As dengue risk increases in the U.S.-Mexico border region, more efforts should be made to educate the public on how the mosquito-borne disease is transmitted to avoid the development of stigma within communities, according to a study by researchers at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and El Colegio de Sonora, Hermosillo, Mexico. The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health.
Dengue is an emerging threat in the U.S.-Mexico border region. Transmission has regularly occurred in Sonora, Mexico since 1982 but it was not until 2014 that cities directly on the Arizona-Sonora border had local transmission. One of the closest urban areas to have regular seasonal transmission is Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. Developing a better understanding of the knowledge and perceptions of dengue in close geographic proximity to the border can identify areas to target for prevention and control measures.
The researchers conducted focus groups in six neighborhoods in Hermosillo, SN, MX; three with high-dengue transmission and three with lower transmission. Awareness of dengue and experience with dengue was common.
In all focus groups, participants reported knowing someone personally who had past dengue infection. The research team further identified several key ways that the perceptions of dengue transmission could influence the effectiveness of dengue control campaigns. First, there was confusion about how dengue is transmitted. While people associated dengue with mosquitoes, multiple modes of transmission were perceived including direct person-to-person transmission. In one focus group, participants indicated a stigma surrounding dengue infection. The necessity to maintain cleanliness in their households was identified as a primary strategy to fight dengue; however, participants also noted the limited impact their actions may have on transmission if there is lack of community support or governmental infrastructure to control neighboring and public spaces.
As dengue risk increases in the border region, more efforts should be made to clearly convey the single mode of transmission of dengue to avoid the development of stigma.