May 21, 1997

Dengue Fever in US Military Personnel in Haiti

Author Affiliations

From the Divisions of Preventive Medicine and Communicable Diseases and Immunology, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, DC (Drs Trofa, DeFraites, Smoak, Kanesa-thasan, King, MacArthy, and Hoke and Ms Burrous); and the Department of Applied Diagnostics, US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Md (Ms Rossi). Dr Trofa is now with South Jersey Infectious Disease, Somers Point, NJ. Dr MacArthy is now with the Food and Drug Administration, Bethesda, Md.

JAMA. 1997;277(19):1546-1548. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540430058033

Objective.  —To describe clinical manifestations and public health implications of an outbreak of dengue fever (DF) during Operation Uphold Democracy, Haiti, 1994.

Design.  —Consecutive sample.

Setting.  —Military combat support hospital, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Patients.  —A total of 101 US military personnel with acute febrile illnesses.

Interventions.  —A disease surveillance team collected clinical and epidemiologic data from US military clinics throughout Haiti. Febrile patients admitted to the combat support hospital were evaluated with standardized clinical and laboratory procedures. The surveillance team followed patients daily.

Main Outcome Measures.  —Arbovirus isolation and specific antibody determination and symptoms and physical findings.

Results.  —Febrile illnesses accounted for 103 (25%) of the 406 combat support hospital admissions during the first 6 weeks of deployment. All patients with febrile illness recovered. A total of 30 patients had DF; no patient had evidence of infection with malaria. Dengue virus serotypes 1,2, and 4 were isolated from 22 patients, and 8 patients developed IgM antibody to dengue virus. Patients with DF could not be distinguished from other febrile patients on clinical grounds alone. No arboviruses other than dengue were identified.

Conclusions.  —Active surveillance, with clinical and laboratory evaluation directed by an epidemiologic team, led to the timely recognition of an outbreak of febrile illness among US troops in Haiti. Viral isolation and serological studies were essential in confirming DF. During the surveillance period, DF accounted for at least 30% of the febrile illnesses among hospitalized US troops. Dengue fever is a significant threat to military personnel and civilian travelers in Haiti and has the potential for introduction to and transmission in the United States.