Dengue study to focus on asymptomatic carriers
By Carol Clark | eScienceCommons | April 14, 2014
A NASA satellite image shows the metropolitan area of Iquitos, Peru, nestled in the Amazon Basin, on the banks of the Amazon River (lower left) and surrounded by smaller rivers, lakes and lagoons.
Dengue fever is a leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics, infecting as many as 400 million people annually, according to the CDC.
"Currently, the most effective way to control dengue outbreaks is to spray for mosquitoes and help people to avoid getting bit by them," says Gonzalo Vazquez-Prokopec, a disease ecologist in Emory's Department of Environmental Sciences.
Vazquez-Prokopec is a co-principal investigator on a major dengue research project ongoing in Iquitos, Peru, which is honing in on ways to control outbreaks of the disease and more effectively treat infections. The National Institutes of Health recently awarded $7 million to the project team, led by the University of California, Davis, and also including the U.S. Navy, North Carolina State University, the University of Iowa, Tulane University and San Diego State.
Emory's portion of the grant — $1.3 million — will be used to study how people who are infected with a dengue virus, but not showing symptoms, may contribute to the spread of dengue.
Infections can spread like wildlife through urban areas of the developing world where many people live in close quarters in substandard housing. Mosquitoes are the vectors of the disease, transmitting the four viruses that cause dengue between people.