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  • Controlling dengue in Brazil 'needs integrated research'

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[RIO DE JANEIRO] Scientists say that until a vaccine against dengue fever is available, controlling the disease in Brazil will require better integration of research findings from different fields of study.

Writing in the current issue of Cadernos de Saúde Pública, a Brazilian science journal, Maria da Glória Teixeira and colleagues at the Federal University of Bahia warn that Brazil should prepare for future dengue epidemics.

The disease is caused by a virus transmitted to people who are bitten by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Symptoms usually include fever, headache and rash, but the virus can also kill.

Teixeira's team warns that it is not enough to tackle the disease only by killing the mosquitoes with insecticide sprays.

The researchers point out that many factors — including lifestyles and living conditions, and differences in people's immune systems — affect the likelihood of the virus being transmitted.

This means that better scientific knowledge is needed to predict the course of epidemics and devise strategies to control it, they say.

The researchers suggest that without a vaccine, dengue control depends on integrating the results from disparate schools of research. These include studies of the environment, how the disease spreads, and the virus itself, as well as research on technological innovations aimed at stopping transmission.

Pedro Lagerblad, a researcher at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, agrees but points out that a vaccine, even if it became available, might not totally eradicate dengue fever from Brazil.

"This threat is far from going away," he told SciDev.Net. "Brazil needs more financial and human resources to understand the disease and must develop research in diverse directions."

An outbreak of dengue fever underway in Singapore has infected thousands of people and killed at least seven.

Link to the full paper in Cadernos de Saúde Pública (English)
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