Detection of dengue virus infection in children presenting with fever in Hawassa, southern Ethiopia.
Shimelis T., Mulu A., Mengesha M., Alemu A., Mihret A., Tadesse BT., Bartlett AW., Belay FWG., Schierhout G., Dittrich S., Crump JA., Vaz Nery S., Kaldor JM.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral infection, with rising incidence globally. Eastern Ethiopia has had dengue fever outbreaks in recent years. However, the extent to which the infection contributes to hospital presentation among children with fever in southern Ethiopia is unknown. We examined 407 stored plasma samples collected to investigate the aetiology of fever in children aged at least 2 months and under 13 years presenting to the outpatient of the largest tertiary hospital in southern Ethiopia. We analyzed samples for dengue virus non-structural 1 antigen using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The median (interquartile range) age of the 407 children examined was 20 (10-48) months, and 166 (40.8%) of the children were females. Of 407 samples analyzed, 9 (2.2%) were positive for dengue virus non-structural 1 antigen, of whom 2 were initially treated with antimalarial drugs despite having negative malaria microscopy, and 1 of the 8 patients had a persistent fever at the seventh day of follow-up time. The presence of active dengue virus infection in the study area highlights the need for studies at the community level as well as the integration of dengue diagnostics into fever-management strategies. Further research to characterize circulating strains is warranted.