Analysis of the temporal, seasonal and demographic distribution of dengue virus (DENV) infections in Barbados was conducted using national surveillance data from a total of 3994 confirmed dengue cases. Diagnosis was confirmed either by DENV–specific real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (rRT–PCR), or non–structural protein 1 (NS1) antigen or enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) tests; a case fatality rate of 0.4% (10/3994) was observed. The prevalence rate of dengue fever (DF) varied from 27.5 to 453.9 cases per 100,000 population among febrile patients who sought medical attention annually. DF cases occurred throughout the year with low level of transmission observed during the dry season (December to June), then increased transmission during rainy season (July to November) peaking in October. Three major dengue epidemics occurred in Barbados during 2010, 2013 and possibly 2016 with an emerging three–year interval. DF prevalence rate among febrile patients who sought medical attention overall was highest among the 10–19 years old age group. The highest DF hospitalisation prevalence rate was observed in 2013. Multiple serotypes circulated during the study period and Dengue virus serotype 2 (DENV–2) was the most prevalent serotype during 2010, whilst DENV–1 was the most prevalent serotype in 2013. Two DENV–1 strains from the 2013 DENV epidemic were genetically more closely related to South East Asian strains, than Caribbean or South American strains, and represent the first ever sequencing of DENV strains in Barbados. However, the small sample size (n = 2) limits any meaningful conclusions. DF prevalence rates were not significantly different between females and males. Public health planning should consider DENV inter–epidemic periodicity, the current COVID–19 pandemic and similar clinical symptomology between DF and COVID–19. The implementation of routine sequencing of DENV strains to obtain critical data can aid in battling DENV epidemics in Barbados.

Arbovirus, Barbados, Caribbean, Dengue, DENV, Epidemics, Epidemiology, Genetic sequencing, Public health, Severe dengue,
Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
Department of Virology

Douglas, K.O. (Kirk Osmond), Dutta, S.K. (Sudip Kumar), Martina, B.E.E, Anfasa, F, Alafia Samuels, T. (T.), & St. Hilaire, G.M. (Gittens Marquita). (2020). Dengue fever and severe dengue in Barbados, 2008–2016. Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease (Vol. 5). doi:10.3390/tropicalmed5020068