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Changing clinical and biological manifestations of dengue during the dengue-2 epidemic in French Polynesia in 1996/97 – description and analysis in a prospective study

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In August 1996 dengue-2 virus was detected in French Polynesia for the first time since 1976. A prospective study was conducted from November 1996 to April 1997. Each time one of 7 physicians suspected dengue, the patient was enrolled and epidemiological, clinical and biological data were recorded. Dengue diagnosis was confirmed by virus isolation and IgM detection. The aims of this study were to find clinical and biological predictive factors constituting a specific profile of dengue (DF) and dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF/DSS) and to assess the possibility of diagnosing dengue at primary health care level using clinical criteria and basic laboratory parameters. Of 298 clinically suspect cases, 196 (66%) were confirmed as dengue. The association of macular rash, pruritis, low platelet count and leukopenia was statistically predictive of dengue but not clinically, since these four signs occur in many other viral infections. As the prevalence of clinical and biological manifestations varied over time in our study, a specific profile useful for dengue diagnosis cannot be defined. With six cases of DHF, the morbidity of this dengue-2 outbreak was very low despite the sequential infection scheme DEN-3/DEN-2. The clinical expression of dengue could depend on a specific virus strain circulating in a specific population in a particular place, with varying virulence over time.
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Keywords: dengue; diagnosis; epidemic; epidemiology; flavivirus

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Epidemiology Unit, Institut Territorial de Recherches Médicales Louis Malardé, Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia 2: Virology Unit, Institut Territorial de Recherches Médicales Louis Malardé, Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

Publication date: November 1, 1998

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