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Dengue costs Caribbean US$321m a year

Monday, March 25, 2013

The fight against dengue, which is spread by the Aedes Egypti mosquito, costs the Caribbean a whopping US$321 million per annum. Prof Christine Carrington revealed this figure in her professorial inaugural lecture at Noor Hassanali auditorium, Faculty of Law, St Augustine Campus, on Thursday. Among those present were Prof Dean Ramsewak, Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences, and PhD student (Molecular Genetics) Orchid Allicock. 


Its theme was Dengue: Past, Present and Future—Why did dengue suddenly emerge in the Americas?” She made her observations against an abstract which said “dengue is the most rapidly spreading viral disease in the world and its incidence has increased 30-fold over the last 50 years.” 


Carrington’s work focuses on using molecular genetic approaches to recover this information and reconstruct the history of dengue virus populations in Trinidad and the wider Americas. “It costs about US$321 million to deal with dengue in the Caribbean and that does not include indirect costs,” Carrington said.


“It’s about 9,000 years of lost time due to ill health and productivity and premature deaths. I don’t have a total cost for T&T. For ambulatory (not stay-in patient) cases it was US$1,057 per case and for hospitalised cases US$2,853 per case. This cost includes direct medical, indirect medical and indirect costs.


“There is the need for interventions. Interventions aimed at reducing dengue have to be well targeted to be cost effective and efficient. Unfortunately, it is difficult to get data to document since there is always a lot of uncertainty about the number of dengue cases and its geographic location.” She was cautiously optimistic about the emergence of a 2015 vaccine, noting there were several vaccines now on trial. 


She said: “There is no cure for dengue. There is no approved vaccine. It just has to be managed. There have been subsequent reports on other candidate vaccines showing promise but this one is furthest along. The results of trial were hopeful in some aspects and disappointing in others. So I would not give the impression that we are certain to have a vaccine by 2015.” She added: “It is difficult to develop a vaccine because there is no good animal model for dengue.


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