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Outbreak of viral hemorrhagic fever caused by dengue virus type 3 in Al-Mukalla, Yemen

Tariq A Madani1*, El-Tayeb ME Abuelzein23, Hussein MS Al-Bar4, Esam I Azhar35, Moujahed Kao3, Haj O Alshoeb6 and Alabd R Bamoosa6

Author affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, PO Box 80215, Jeddah, 21589, Saudi Arabia

2 Scientific Chair of Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Alamoudi for Viral Hemorrhagic Fever, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

3 Special Infectious Agents Unit, King Fahd Medical Research Center, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

4 Department of Family and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

5 Department of Medical Laboratory Technology, Faculty of Applied Medical Sciences, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

6 Ministry of Health, Al-Mukalla, Yemen

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Citation and License

BMC Infectious Diseases 2013, 13:136  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-136

Published: 14 March 2013



Investigations were conducted by the authors to explore an outbreak of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) reported in 2010 from Al-Mukalla city, the capital of Hadramout in Yemen.


From 15–17 June 2010, the outbreak investigation period, specimens were obtained within 7 days after onset of illness of 18 acutely ill patients hospitalized with VHF and 15 household asymptomatic contacts of 6 acute cases. Additionally, 189 stored sera taken from acutely ill patients with suspected VHF hospitalized in the preceding 12 months were obtained from the Ministry of Health of Yemen. Thus, a total of 222 human specimens were collected; 207 specimens from acute cases and 15 specimens from contacts. All samples were tested with RT-PCR for dengue (DENV), Alkhumra (ALKV), Rift Valley Fever (RVFV), Yellow Fever (YFV), and Chikungunya (CHIKV) viruses. Samples were also tested for DENV IgM, IgG, and NS1-antigen. Medical records of patients were reviewed and demographic, clinical, and laboratory data was collected.


Of 207 patients tested, 181 (87.4%) patients were confirmed to have acute dengue with positive dengue NS1-antigen (97 patients, 46.9%) and/or IgM (163 patients, 78.7%). Of the 181 patients with confirmed dengue, 100 (55.2%) patients were IgG-positive. DENV RNA was detected in 2 (1%) patients with acute symptoms; both samples were molecularly typed as DENV type 3. No other VHF viruses were detected. For the 15 contacts tested, RT-PCR tests for the five viruses were negative, one contact was dengue IgM positive, and another one was dengue IgG positive. Of the 181 confirmed dengue patients, 120 (66.3%) patients were males and the median age was 24 years. The most common manifestations included fever (100%), headache (94.5%), backache (93.4%), malaise (88.4%), arthralgia (85.1%), myalgia (82.3%), bone pain (77.9%), and leukopenia (76.2%). Two (1.1%) patients died.


DENV-3 was confirmed to be the cause of an outbreak of VHF in Al-Mukalla. It is important to use both IgM and NS1-antigen tests to confirm acute dengue particularly under the adverse field conditions, where proper storage and transportation of specimens are missing, which substantially reduce the sensitivity of the RT-PCR for detecting DENV RNA.

Dengue virus type 3; Viral hemorrhagic fever; Outbreak; Al-Mukalla; Yemen