Transmission of the mosquito-borne dengue virus appears to be largely driven by infections centered in and around the home, with the majority of cases related to one another occurring in people who live less than 200 meters apart, suggests new research conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The findings, published in the March 24 issue of Science, offer new insights into the spread of diseases like dengue – which infects more than 300 million people each year – and how governments and individuals might put in place more targeted and more effective mosquito control programs. The study was also conducted with researchers from the University of Florida, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, the Ministry of Public Health of Thailand and the Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health.
“What is exciting about this is that we are using new scientific tools to allow us to look inside the black box of disease transmission that we haven’t before been able to penetrate on this scale,” says one of the study’s authors, Justin Lessler, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Bloomberg School. “Understanding the patterns of how infections are spread might help us start to appreciate why certain interventions aren’t working, how some could work better and what we can do to protect more people from what can be a devastating illness.”
Interventions such as mosquito control near the houses of cases and targeted vaccination could potentially be better utilized based on an improved understanding of these patterns.