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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Ecological, biological and social dimensions of dengue vector breeding in five urban settings of Latin America: a multi-country study

Juliana Quintero1*, Helena Brochero2, Pablo Manrique-Saide3, Mario Barrera-Pérez4, César Basso5, Sonnia Romero6, Andrea Caprara7, Jane Cris De Lima Cunha8, Efraín Beltrán - Ayala9, Kendra Mitchell-Foster10, Axel Kroeger11, Johannnes Sommerfeld12 and Max Petzold13

Author Affiliations

1 Centro de Estudios e Investigación en Salud – CEIS, Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá, Bogotá, Colombia

2 Facultad de Agronomía, Sede Bogotà, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia

3 Departamento de Zoología, Campus de Ciencias Biológicas y Agropecuarias, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Mérida, México

4 Departamento de Enfermedades Infecciosas y Transmitidas por Vectores, Centro de Investigaciones Regionales “Dr. Hideyo Noguchi”, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Mérida, México

5 Departamento de Protección Vegetal, Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay

6 Departamento de Antropología Social, Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias de La Educación, Universidad de la Republica, Montevideo, Uruguay

7 Centro de Ciências de Saúde, Universidad Esatdual do Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil

8 Departament of Public Health, Universidade Estadual do Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil

9 Departamento de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad Técnica de Machala, Machala, Ecuador and Servicio Nacional de Control de Enfermedades Transmitidas por Vectores Artrópodos, Guayaquil, Ecuador

10 Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program/Global Health Research Program, School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

11 Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, and Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

12 Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

13 Centre for Applied Statistics, University of Göteberg, Göteberg, Sweden

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2014, 14:38  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-38

Published: 21 January 2014



Dengue is an increasingly important public health problem in most Latin American countries and more cost-effective ways of reducing dengue vector densities to prevent transmission are in demand by vector control programs. This multi-centre study attempted to identify key factors associated with vector breeding and development as a basis for improving targeted intervention strategies.


In each of 5 participant cities in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil and Uruguay, 20 clusters were randomly selected by grid sampling to incorporate 100 contiguous households, non-residential private buildings (businesses) and public spaces. Standardized household surveys, cluster background surveys and entomological surveys specifically targeted to obtain pupal indices for Aedes aegypti, were conducted in the dry and wet seasons.


The study clusters included mainly urban low-middle class populations with satisfactory infrastructure and –except for Uruguay- favourable climatic conditions for dengue vector development. Household knowledge about dengue and “dengue mosquitoes” was widespread, mainly through mass media, but there was less awareness around interventions to reduce vector densities. Vector production (measured through pupal indices) was favoured when water containers were outdoor, uncovered, unused (even in Colombia and Ecuador where the large tanks used for household water storage and washing were predominantly productive) and –particularly during the dry season- rainwater filled. Larval infestation did not reflect productive container types. All productive container types, including those important in the dry season, were identified by pupal surveys executed during the rainy season.


A number of findings are relevant for improving vector control: 1) there is a need for complementing larval surveys with occasional pupal surveys (to be conducted during the wet season) for identifying and subsequently targeting productive container types; 2) the need to raise public awareness about useful and effective interventions in productive container types specific to their area; and 3) the motivation for control services that-according to this and similar studies in Asia- dedicated, targeted vector management can make a difference in terms of reducing vector abundance.

Dengue; Aedes aegypti; Vector breeding sites; Pupal indices; Urban settings; Ecobiosocial framework