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Space-time analysis of dengue fever diagnosed through a network of laboratories in India, 2014-2017

 ICMR-National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai, India

Correspondence Address:
Vasna Joshua,
ICMR National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-9062.311774

Background & objectives: The Department of Health Research and the Indian Council of Medical Research, Government of India, have established Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratory Network (VRDLN) to strengthen the laboratory capacity in the country for providing timely diagnosis of disease outbreaks. Fifty-one VRDLs were functional as of December 2017 and had reported about dengue fever across Indian states. The objectives of the study were to detect space-time clusters and purely temporal clusters of dengue using Kulldorff's SaTScan statistics using patient-level information; and to identify regions at greater risk of developing the disease using Kriging technique aggregating at district level. Methods: A total of 211,432 patients from 51 VRDLs were investigated for IgM antibodies or NS1 antigen against dengue virus during the period from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2017 and among them 60,096 (28.4%) were found to be positive. Kulldorff's space-time analysis was used to identify significant clusters over space and time. Kriging technique was used to interpolate dengue data for areas not physically sampled using the relationship in the spatial arrangement of the data set. Maps obtained using both the methods were overlaid to identify the regions at greater risk of developing the disease. Results: Kulldorff space time scan statistics using the Bernoulli model with monthly precision revealed eight statistically significant clusters (P <0.001) for the time period 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2017. Eight significant clusters identified were districts of Nagpur in Maharashtra, Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan, Gadag in Karnataka and Dakshin Kannada, Kancheepuram and Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu, Ernakulam in Kerala and Malda in West Bengal. The purely temporal clusters occurred during the last quarter of 2015 and 2016. The Kriging technique identified north eastern part of the country (Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur) and Gujarat. Interpretation & conclusion: Dengue fever has spread in all directions in the country. Hence, it is need of the hour to perform an in-depth investigation.

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