Dengue severity by serotype in 19 years of pediatric clinical studies in Nicaragua

medRxiv [Preprint]. 2024 Feb 13:2024.02.11.24302393. doi: 10.1101/2024.02.11.24302393.


Background: Dengue virus, a major global health threat, consists of four serotypes (DENV1-4) that cause a range of clinical manifestations from mild to severe and potentially fatal disease.

Methods: This study, based on 19 years of data from the Pediatric Dengue Cohort Study and Pediatric Dengue Hospital-based Study in Managua, Nicaragua, investigates the influence of serotype and immune status on dengue severity. Study participants 6 months to 17 years old were followed during their hospital stay or as ambulatory patients, with dengue cases confirmed by molecular, serological, and/or virological methods.

Results: We enrolled a total of 14071 participants, of whom 2954 (21%) were positive for DENV infection. Of 2425 cases with serotype result by RT-PCR, 541 corresponded to DENV1, 996 to DENV2, 718 to DENV3 and 170 to DENV4. Severe disease was more prevalent among secondary DENV2 and DENV4 cases, while similar disease severity was observed in both primary and secondary DENV1 and DENV3 cases. According to the 1997 World Health Organization (WHO) severity classification, both DENV2 and DENV3 had a higher proportion of severe disease compared to other serotypes, whereas DENV3 had the greatest percentage of severity under the WHO-2009 classification. DENV2 was associated with pleural effusion and low platelet count, while DENV3 correlated with both hypotensive and compensated shock.

Conclusions: These findings emphasize the critical need for a dengue vaccine with balanced efficacy against all four serotypes, particularly as existing vaccines show variable efficacy by serotype and immune status, posing challenges for comprehensive protection, particularly in dengue-naïve individuals.

Keywords: dengue; disease severity; immune status; pediatric; serotype.

Publication types

  • Preprint