Background
Dengue is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that constitutes a growing global threat with the habitat expansion of its vectors Aedes aegyti and A. albopictus and increasing urbanization. With no effective treatment and limited success of vector control, dengue vaccines constitute the best control measure for the foreseeable future. With four interacting dengue serotypes, the development of an effective vaccine has been a challenge. Several dengue vaccine candidates are currently being tested in clinical trials. Before the widespread introduction of a new dengue vaccine, one needs to consider how best to use limited supplies of vaccine given the complex dengue transmission dynamics and the immunological interaction among the four dengue serotypes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We developed an individual-level (including both humans and mosquitoes), stochastic simulation model for dengue transmission and control in a semi-rural area in Thailand. We calibrated the model to dengue serotype-specific infection, illness and hospitalization data from Thailand. Our simulations show that a realistic roll-out plan, starting with young children then covering progressively older individuals in following seasons, could reduce local transmission of dengue to low levels. Simulations indicate that this strategy could avert about 7,700 uncomplicated dengue fever cases and 220 dengue hospitalizations per 100,000 people at risk over a ten-year period.
Conclusions/Significance
Vaccination will have an important role in controlling dengue. According to our modeling results, children should be prioritized to receive vaccine, but adults will also need to be vaccinated if one wants to reduce community-wide dengue transmission to low levels.
Author Summary
An estimated 40% of the world's population is at risk of infection with dengue, a mosquito-borne disease that can lead to hospitalization or death. Dengue vaccines are currently being tested in clinical trials and at least one product will likely be available within a couple of years. Before widespread deployment, one should plan how best to use limited supplies of vaccine. We developed a mathematical model of dengue transmission in semi-rural Thailand to help evaluate different vaccination strategies. Our modeling results indicate that children should be prioritized to receive vaccine to reduce dengue-related morbidity, but adults will also need to be vaccinated if one wants to eliminate local dengue transmission. Dengue is a challenging disease to study because of its four interacting serotypes, seasonality of its transmission, and pre-existing immunity in a population. Models such as this one are useful coherent framework for synthesizing these complex issues and evaluating potential public health interventions such as mass vaccination.