Authors: Davidson T., Vickers I., Christie CD
Published in: West Indian Med J 2016;65(3);442-449
Background Dengue fever is hyper-endemic in Jamaica with exponential rates of infection in successive outbreaks. The absence of local data and the potential for massive outbreaks in a country where a third of the population are children formed the basis for this study.
Methods We evaluated the outcome of dengue in children hospitalized at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), Mona, Jamaica, during the island-wide dengue fever epidemic of 2012. This retrospective study reports all physician-diagnosed cases of dengue in hospitalized children aged less than 15 years.
Results A total of 134 hospitalized children with physician-diagnosed dengue were included. One hundred and eighteen (88%) had a confirmatory dengue laboratory test. One hundred and twenty (90%) were uncomplicated and 14 (10%) had severe dengue. Severe disease was significantly associated with a longer duration between disease onset and hospital admission (p = 0.0076). Main co-morbidities were sickle cell disease (14%) and asthma (13%), however neither was associated with increased mortality. Duration of hospitalization was longer for patients with sickle cell disease. Children with short stature were significantly more likely to have severe dengue [Z-score height-for-age < 2.0; OR 6.46(1.61, 25.88), p = 0.016]. There were five deaths with a case fatality rate of 3.73%. Prior use of Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs was documented in four deaths.
Conclusion Delayed presentation and short stature were significantly associated with severe dengue. Children with sickle cell disease had longer hospital stay. The case fatality rate was 3.73%. Use of safe and efficacious dengue vaccines should mitigate the effects of dengue-attributable childhood morbidity and mortality.