"We used a new mathematical technique developed by NASA for analysis of waves in physical materials like water waves and sound waves to study "epidemic waves" of dengue cases. Our study is the first step to understanding the mechanism of how a disease like dengue spreads through the country," said lead author Derek Cummings, a PhD candidate at the Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public of Health and Whiting School of Engineering. "Anticipating dengue epidemics and determining the causes of those epidemics could help us plan control strategies more effectively."
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne illness that infects 50 million to 100 million people worldwide each year, many of them children. Epidemics of the most serious and life-threatening form of the disease, dengue hemorrhagic fever, place a heavy burden on public health systems.
The number of cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever in Thailand varies widely from year to year. Cummings and his colleagues examined the spatial-temporal dynamics of dengue hemorrhagic fever in a data-set describing 850,000 infections that occurred between 1983 and 1997. Their analysis showed that outbreaks in provinces surrounding Bangkok were either synchronous or lag behind Bangkok, which indicated a repeating, spatial-temporal wave emanating from the city. The researchers do not know exactly why the wave occurs, but they believe it is related to the movement of people. Bangk
Contact: Tim Parsons
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health