Re-introduction of dengue virus serotype 2 in the state of Rio de Janeiro after almost a decade of epidemiological silence

14 Oct, 2019

Authors: Torres MC, de Bruycker Nogueira F, Fernandes CA, et al.

Published in: PLoS One. 2019;14(12):e0225879

Abstract The Asian/American genotype of dengue virus serotype 2 (DENV-2) has been introduced in Brazil through the state of Rio de Janeiro around 1990, and since then it has been spreading and evolving, leading to several waves of dengue epidemics throughout the country that cause a major public health problem. Of particular interest has been the epidemic of 2008, whose highest impact was evidenced in the state of Rio de Janeiro, with a higher number of severe cases and mortality rate, compared to previous outbreaks. Interestingly, no circulation of DENV-2 was witnessed in this region during the preceding 9-year period. By early 2010, phylogenetic analysis of the 2008 epidemic strain revealed that the outbreak was caused by a new viral lineage of the Asian/American genotype, which was pointed as responsible for the outbreak severity as well. The same scenario is repeating in 2019 in this state; however, only a few cases have been detected yet. To provide information that helps to the understanding of DENV-2 dynamics in the state of Rio de Janeiro, and thereafter contribute to public health control and prevention actions, we employed phylogenetic studies combined with temporal and dynamics geographical features to determine the origin of the current viral strain. To this effect, we analyzed a region of 1626 nucleotides entailing the Envelope/NS1 viral genes. Our study reveals that the current strain belongs to the same lineage that caused the 2008 outbreak, however, it is phylogenetically distant from any Brazilian strain identified so far. Indeed, it seemed to be originated in Puerto Rico around 2002 and has been introduced into the state in late 2018. Taking into account that no DENV-2 case was reported over the last decade in the state (representing a whole susceptible children generation), and the fact that a new viral strain may be causing current dengue infections, these results will be influential in strengthening dengue surveillance and disease control, mitigating the potential epidemiological consequences of virus spread.