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Estimating dengue fever’s economic ‘bite’

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Washington: A team of researchers has published a comprehensive assessment of the economic toll taken by dengue fever on 141 countries and territories around the world.

In summary, the group of SIHP health economists at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management found that the global cost of dengue is substantial.

At an estimated cost of USD 8.9 billion annually, the price tag for dengue exceeds that of several other major infectious diseases such as cholera, rotavirus gastroenteritis, canine rabies and Chagas, noted lead author Donald Shepard.

Since it is transmitted by four distinct types of viruses, dengue can hit the same individual up to four times. Dengue fever is prone to resource-intensive outbreaks that tend to hit hardest in the urban growth centers of endemic countries, like Brazil, Indonesia and India. In this way, dengue can literally break the back of local healthcare systems and lead to intensive associated costs, related both to medical care and lost productivity.

The paper provides a much-needed update on the economic impact of this disease worldwide. It took a comprehensive view to assemble all existing evidence to generate a systematic estimate of global economic burden and, for the first time, to replicate this process 1,000 times to generate uncertainty intervals around the central estimate.

“The dearth of population-based data for many elements was the biggest challenge of us. For important parts of the tropics-especially South Asia and Africa-almost no such studies exist, in fact,” noted Shepard.

Shepard concluded, “Our hope is that a greater understanding of the main factors driving uncertainty around the burden of dengue will allow current estimates to be improved and, consequently, drive the evaluation of existing and potential future preventive and treatment approaches.”

The study appears in Lancet Infectious Diseases. (ANI)

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