Background: Apart from outbreak reports, little is known about the endemicity of dengue and chikungunya virus in African countries. We investigated serum samples collected in Gabon before major outbreaks in 2007 and 2010 in order to identify pre-outbreak-circulation of both viruses.
Methods: Serum samples from Gabonese infants (162) were analyzed at 3, 9, 15 and 30 months of age by commercial ELISA for dengue and chikungunya IgG-antibodies. If samples were positive medical records of participants were analyzed for symptoms concordant with dengue and chikungunya infections during the time period of assumed seroconversion.
Results: IgG-antibodies against dengue were found in 12.3%, and IgG-antibodies against chikungunya in 0.6% of infants tested. Using the four measuring time points, we estimated corresponding incidences of 51/1.000 person-years and 2.5/1.000 person-years, respectively. Symptoms in positive-tested infants were mostly non-specific.
Conclusion: Seropositivity suggests that both viruses circulated before the well-noticed outbreaks. Clinical diagnosis of dengue and chikungunya is difficult especially in infants, underscoring the need for accurate and reliable diagnostic tests as well as awareness of medical personnel.
Clinical trials registration: NCT00167843.
Keywords: Chikungunya; Dengue; ELISA; Infants; Seroprevalence.
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