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Dengue epidemic in Malaysia: Not a predominantly urban disease anymore

Nor Azila Muhammad Azami1, Sharifah Azura Salleh2, Hui-min Neoh1, Syed Zulkifli Syed Zakaria13 and Rahman Jamal13*

Author Affiliations

1 UKM Medical Molecular Biology Institute, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Malaysia

2 Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

3 Secretariat, The Malaysian Cohort, Malaysia

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:216  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-216

Published: 29 June 2011

Abstract

Background

Dengue infection has been an important and serious public health concern in Malaysia ever since its first reported case here in 1902. Nevertheless, to our knowledge, no nationwide investigation has been carried out to determine the actual magnitude of dengue endemicity in the Malaysian population. In this study, we describe a cross sectional seroepidemiology study of dengue IgG seroprevalence in the Malaysian adult population.

Findings

From 1000 subjects (35-74 years old), 91.6% subjects were found to be dengue seropositive. Age is found to be a significant risk factor associated with dengue seroposivity, where the seroprevalence increased with every 10 year increase in age. Nevertheless, gender and ethnicity did not have an effect. Interestingly, there were similar seroprevalence rates between urban and rural samples, showing that dengue is presently not confined to urban areas in Malaysia.

Conclusions

High dengue IgG seropositivity found in the population is an indication that dengue might be endemic in Malaysia for a long time into the future. Public awareness, proper vector control and vigilant surveillance are critical to keep the infection rates low and to prevent outbreaks.