Dengue is the most important arboviral disease of humans with over half of the world’s population living in areas of risk. The frequency and magnitude of epidemic dengue have increased dramatically in the past 40 years as the viruses and the mosquito vectors have both expanded geographically in the tropical regions of the world. There are many factors that have contributed to this emergence of epidemic dengue, but only three have been the principal drivers: 1) urbanization, 2) globalization and 3) lack of effective mosquito control. The dengue viruses have fully adapted to a human-Aedes aegypti-human transmission cycle, in the large urban centers of the tropics, where crowded human populations live in intimate association with equally large mosquito populations. This setting provides the ideal home for maintenance of the viruses and the periodic generation of epidemic strains. These cities all have modern airports through which 10s of millions of passengers pass each year, providing the ideal mechanism for transportation of viruses to new cities, regions and continents where there is little or no effective mosquito control. The result is epidemic dengue. This paper discusses this unholy trinity of drivers, along with disease burden, prevention and control and prospects for the future.
2011 by The Japanese Society of Tropical Medicine