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By Johana Cupp

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There are ongoing programs working on a dengue vaccine to cover all four serotypes. One of the concerns is that a vaccine may increase the risk of severe disease through antibody-dependent enhancement. The ideal vaccine is safe, effective after one or two injections, covers all serotypes, does not contribute to ADE, is easily transported and stored, and is both affordable and cost-effective. A number of vaccines are currently undergoing testing. It is hoped that the first products will be commercially available by 2015.

A mosquito that takes a blood meal from a person infected with dengue fever becomes itself infected with the virus in the cells lining its gut. About 8–10 days later, the virus spreads to other tissues including the mosquito's salivary glands and is subsequently released into its saliva. The virus seems to have no detrimental effect on the mosquito, which remains infected for life. Aedes aegypti prefers to lay its eggs in artificial water containers and tends to live in close proximity to humans, and has a preference for feeding off them rather than other vertebrates.

Virology and serology Dengue fever may also be diagnosed by microbiological laboratory testing. This can be done by virus isolation in cell cultures, nucleic acid detection by PCR, viral antigen detection or specific antibodies (serology). Virus isolation and nucleic acid detection are more accurate than antigen detection, but these tests are not widely available due to their greater cost. All tests may be negative in the early stages of the disease. Apart from serology, laboratory tests are only of diagnostic value during the acute phase of the illness.

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