Dengue disease surveillance: an updated systematic literature review

Trop Med Int Health. 2014 Sep;19(9):1116-60. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12333. Epub 2014 May 28.


Objectives: To review the evidence for the application of tools for dengue outbreak prediction/detection and trend monitoring in passive and active disease surveillance systems in order to develop recommendations for endemic countries and identify important research needs.

Methods: This systematic literature review followed the protocol of a review from 2008, extending the systematic search from January 2007 to February 2013 on PubMed, EMBASE, CDSR, WHOLIS and Lilacs. Data reporting followed the PRISMA statement. The eligibility criteria comprised (i) population at risk of dengue, (ii) dengue disease surveillance, (iii) outcome of surveillance described and (iv) empirical data evaluated. The analysis classified studies based on the purpose of the surveillance programme. The main limitation of the review was expected publication bias.

Results: A total of 1116 papers were identified of which 36 articles were included in the review. Four cohort-based prospective studies calculated expansion factors demonstrating remarkable levels of underreporting in the surveillance systems. Several studies demonstrated that enhancement methods such as laboratory support, sentinel-based reporting and staff motivation contributed to improvements in dengue reporting. Additional improvements for passive surveillance systems are possible by incorporating simple data forms/entry/electronic-based reporting; defining clear system objectives; performing data analysis at the lowest possible level (e.g. district); seeking regular data feedback. Six studies showed that serotype changes were positively correlated with the number of reported cases or with dengue incidence, with lag times of up to 6 months. Three studies found that data on internet searches and event-based surveillance correlated well with the epidemic curve derived from surveillance data.

Conclusions: Passive surveillance providing the baseline for outbreak alert should be strengthened and appropriate threshold levels for outbreak alerts investigated. Additional enhancement tools such as syndromic surveillance, laboratory support and motivation strategies can be added. Appropriate alert signals need to be identified and integrated into a risk assessment tool. Shifts in dengue serotypes/genotype or electronic event-based surveillance have also considerable potential as indicator in dengue surveillance. Further research on evidence-based response strategies and cost-effectiveness is needed.

Keywords: brote de dengue; dengue; dengue outbreaks; epidemic preparedness; preparación para epidemias; préparation aux épidémies; revisión sistemática; revue systématique; surveillance; systematic review; vigilancia; épidémies de la dengue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Dengue / epidemiology*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Humans
  • Population Surveillance*