Social and environmental risk factors for dengue in Delhi city: A retrospective study

Social and environmental risk factors for dengue in Delhi city: A retrospective study

By Olivier Telle, Birgit Nikolay, Vikram Kumar, Samuel Benkimoun, Rupali Pal, BN Nagpal, and Richard E. Paul
PLOS, 11 February 2021

Global urbanization is leading to an inexorable spread of several major diseases that need to be stemmed. Dengue is one of these major diseases spreading in cities today, with its principal mosquito vector superbly adapted to the urban environment. Current mosquito control strategies are proving inadequate, especially in the face of such urbanisation and novel, evidence-based targeted approaches are needed. Through combined epidemiological and entomological approaches, we aimed to identify a novel sanitation strategy to alleviate the burden of dengue through how the dengue virus spreads through the community. We combined surveillance case mapping, prospective serological studies, year-round mosquito surveys, socio-economic and Knowledge Attitudes and Practices surveys across Delhi. We identified lack of access to tap water (≤98%) as an important risk factor for dengue virus IgG sero-positivity (adjusted Odds Ratio 4.69, 95% C.I. 2.06–10.67) and not poverty per se. Wealthier districts had a higher dengue burden despite lower mosquito densities than the Intermediary income communities (adjusted Odds Ratio 2.92, 95% C.I. 1.26–6.72). This probably reflects dengue being introduced by people travelling from poorer areas to work in wealthier houses. These poorer, high density areas, where temperatures are also warmer, also had dengue cases during the winter. Control strategies based on improved access to a reliable supply of tap water plus focal intervention in intra-urban heat islands prior to the dengue season could not only lead to a reduction in mosquito abundance but also eliminate the reservoir of dengue virus clearly circulating at low levels in winter in socio-economically disadvantaged areas.