Epidemiology of dengue fever in Guatemala


Dengue is the most common mosquito-borne virus, and a major cause of fever, with an estimated 390 million infections annually. Guatemala, in Central America, has had ongoing dengue transmission since the 1990s. Its national surveillance system monitors outbreaks and seasonal trends of infections to inform public health responses. We have analysed 17 years of surveillance data collected from 2000 to 2016, to describe seasonal trends, outbreak years, and the fluctuating prevalence of the four dengue serotypes. Laboratory data from 91,554 individual serum samples were included, of which 7.8% were positive for dengue. All four dengue serotypes circulate in the country, with dengue 1 and 2 being the predominant serotypes. This is important, as it increases the likelihood of dengue infections being followed by a new infection with a different serotype, which can lead to severe dengue. We also report that adults in Guatemala have a lower likelihood of infection the year after an epidemic, which might be linked to an increased immunity in the population. Dengue fever occurs worldwide and about 1% of cases progress to severe haemorrhage and shock. Dengue is endemic in Guatemala and its surveillance system could document long term trends. We analysed 17 years of country-wide dengue surveillance data in Guatemala to describe epidemiological trends from 2000 to 2016.Data from the national dengue surveillance database were analysed to describe dengue serotype frequency, seasonality, and outbreaks. We used Poisson regression models to compare the number of cases each year with subsequent years and to estimate incidence ratios within serotype adjusted by age and gender. 91,554 samples were tested. Dengue was confirmed by RT-qPCR, culture or NS1-ELISA in 7097 (7.8%) cases and was IgM ELISA-positive in 19,290 (21.1%) cases. DENV1, DENV2, DENV3, and DENV4 were detected in 2218 (39.5%), 2580 (45.9%), 591 (10.5%), and 230 (4.1%) cases. DENV1 and DENV2 were the predominant serotypes, but all serotypes caused epidemics. The largest outbreak occurred in 2010 with 1080 DENV2 cases reported. The incidence was higher among adults during epidemic years, with significant increases in 2005, 2007, and 2013 DENV1 outbreaks, the 2010 DENV2 and 2003 DENV3 outbreaks. Adults had a lower incidence immediately after epidemics, which is likely linked to increased immunity.