Thursday, August 18, 2011

2010 Dengue Fever Epidemic - Lessons from Working with the CDC

Written by Tyler Sharp, reblogged from CDC (link below)
Paradise Has Its Risks
Given the choice I prefer my bones to remain unbroken. For that reason I began to worry when I found out that the disease I would be studying for the next two years in Puerto Rico was also referred to as “breakbone fever.”
In April of 2010, I accepted an assignment to study dengue fever as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer at the CDC Dengue Branch in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  While I was thrilled to be moving to “The Island of Enchantment,” reality began to sink in when I realized that I was running head first into an ongoing epidemic of a painful and deadly disease.

Earlier that year, CDC had issued an update on the status of dengue in the Caribbean, warning of impending epidemics.  From my time in graduate school I knew that the four viruses that cause dengue are transmitted by mosquitoes, but I didn’t know much about the illness itself. When I started reading up on dengueExternal Web Site Icon., I found out that the name “breakbone fever” comes from the intense bone and joint pain that accompanies the disease. Patients with severe forms of dengue can experience hemorrhage, shock, and even death.  I also discovered that the World Health OrganizationExternal Web Site Icon. estimates that there are about 100 million cases of dengue each year, including 500,000 hospitalizations and more than 25,000 deaths.  This was serious business!  What had I gotten myself into?!

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