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When dengue fever re-emerged in the 1980s, Cuba was hit by an outbreak of a severe form of the disease, which kills two out of five people infected, mostly children. 

In this article in Science, María Guzmán, head of virology at Cuba's Tropical Medicine Institute Pedro Kourí, describes how she and other researchers helped tackle the disease.

Guzmán and colleagues found that people with diseases such as asthma and diabetes were more likely to develop severe dengue. They are also investigating whether an individual's ethnic background or genetic make-up could be risk factors for the disease.

The researchers found that people infected by dengue could be vulnerable to developing the severe form of the disease even decades later. Thus, says Guzmán, the dengue vaccine they are now trying to create will need to confer long-lasting protection.

Guzmán attributes Cuba's ability to tackle the dengue epidemics to the country's substantial investment in training and employing scientists and healthcare workers. These workers were able to stem the epidemics that have broken out in the past few decades through various techniques, one of which was getting rid of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the infection.

Link to full article in Science

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