Jenny G. H. Low 1 , Adrian Ong 1 , Li Kiang Tan 2 , Shera Chaterji 3 , Angelia Chow 3 , Wen Yan Lim 3 , Koon Wui Lee 4 , Robert Chua 3 , Choon Rong Chua 2 , Sharon W. S. Tan 2 , Yin Bun Cheung 3 , 5 , Martin L. Hibberd 6 , Subhash G. Vasudevan 3 , Lee-Ching Ng 2 , Yee Sin Leo 1 , Eng Eong Ooi 3 , 4 , *
31 May 2011
The emergence of dengue throughout the tropical world is affecting an increasing proportion of adult cases. The clinical features of dengue in different age groups have not been well examined, especially in the context of early clinical diagnosis.
We structured a prospective study of adults (≥18 years of age) presenting with acute febrile illness within 72 hours from illness onset upon informed consent. Patients were followed up over a 3–4 week period to determine the clinical outcome. A total of 2,129 adults were enrolled in the study, of which 250 (11.7%) had dengue. Differences in the rates of dengue-associated symptoms resulted in high sensitivities when the WHO 1997 or 2009 classification schemes for probable dengue fever were applied to the cohort. However, when the cases were stratified into age groups, fewer older adults reported symptoms such as myalgia, arthralgia, retro-orbital pain and mucosal bleeding, resulting in reduced sensitivity of the WHO classification schemes. On the other hand, the risks of severe dengue and hospitalization were not diminshed in older adults, indicating that this group of patients can benefit from early diagnosis, especially when an antiviral drug becomes available. Our data also suggests that older adults who present with fever and leukopenia should be tested for dengue, even in the absence of other symptoms.
Dengue infection in adults has become increasingly common throughout the world. As most of the clinical features of dengue have been described in children, we undertook a prospective study to determine the early symptoms and signs of dengue in adults. We show here that, overall, dengue cases presented with high rates of symptoms listed in the WHO 1997 or 2009 classification schemes for probable dengue fever thus resulting in high sensitivities of these schemes when applied for early diagnosis. However, symptoms such as myalgia, arthralgia, retro-orbital pain and mucosal bleeding were less frequently reported in older adults. This trend resulted in reduced sensitivity of the WHO classification schemes in older adults even though they showed increased risks of hospitalization and severe dengue. Instead, we suggest that older adults who present with fever and leukopenia should be tested for dengue, even in the absence of other symptoms. This could be useful for early clinical diagnosis in older adults so that they can be monitored and treated for severe dengue, which is especially important when an antiviral drug becomes available.