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article imageHow much dengue virus is needed to infect a person?

By Tim Sandle     May 20, 2013 in Science
It is well established that dengue fever is spread by mosquitoes. But just how much of the virus is needed and when are mosquitoes most infectious? New research answers these questions.
Dengue is a viral infection that is transmitted between humans by mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles. In most people it only causes flu-like symptoms but in a small proportion of cases the disease can become life-threatening. Dengue is transmitted by several species of mosquito within the genus Aedes.
The new research finding shows that findings reveal that mosquitoes that feed on dengue patients with very high levels of virus in their blood are more likely to be infectious to other humans two weeks later. The majority of patients with mild symptoms have enough virus in their blood to support transmission.
The research fining is important because by defining the threshold of the amount of virus needed for transmission, the research also provides the target that experimental dengue vaccines and drugs need to reach in order to prevent the spread of disease.
The research was led by Prof Cameron P Simmons undertaken at the Wellcome Trust (U.K.), scientists and doctors at the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (U.K.) at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Vietnam. The study will be published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In relation to the spread of the disease, scientists reporting in a separate study, have had some success with manipulating mosquitoes so that they are unable to spread viruses such as dengue, a disease which kills round 40,000 people each year.
More about Dengue, Dengue fever, Mosquitoes, Virus
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