Introduction to Dengue Fever Textbook

What is dengue fever and how many people get it every year? How was the disease initially discovered? Where on earth are you most at risk from getting it? How is it spread? What are the genomic details of the virus? How does it reproduce in the human body? How is the vector that carries the virus controlled? Are there many different strategies that focus on different personal, chemical and biological possibilities?

What diagnostic methods are used to see if a person might have dengue fever? How can the disease currently be treated in humans? What future antiviral treatments and vaccines are on the research horizon to improve treatment of the disease and even to help prevent people from getting it in the first place?

Dengue Fever is a textbook on the harmful infectious disease that hits around 50 million per year. The lead author behind this textbook is Ingrid A. Lobo (Associate Professor at University of Colorado) and it was originally published in 2011 (last updated in 2014) as part of the Nature Education program. The book consists of two major units that cover the basic biology behind the disease as well as how modern medicine and research can mitigate spread and treat the disease.

The unit on the basic biology of dengue disease starts by outlining the incidence and geographical spread of the viral infection, the history of the disease, current trends and symptoms. It then moves on to consider many of these issues in greater detail. The meat of this unit focuses on the vector of dengue virus, its life cycle and how it is transmitted to humans, the genomic details of the virus, and its infection cycle as well as how the body fights off the virus with various parts of the immune system.

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The second unit shift gears towards discussing for how to limit the spread of the virus (such as personal, chemical and biological methods), current diagnostic methods, dengue fever surveillance and treatments and what future treatments are being researched by scientists. Scientists and medical doctors are focusing on finding improved diagnostic methods so that cases can be caught early because those cases have a better prognosis. They also want to keep tabs on the vector that carry the virus and make sure that environmental responses are rapid when an outbreak occurs.

Finally, they want to develop effective antiviral medications against the disease and a vaccine that can prevent people from getting the disease in the first place. This section covers live attenuated vaccines, chimeric live attenuated vaccines, inactivated vaccines, subunit vaccines, and nucleic acid vaccines.

The book is easy to read and great at stimulating interest in a complicated topic, especially if you want to get a comprehensive overview on the topic without reading through dozens and dozens of papers about it. It is written in an informative style and it has both informative images and references to the scientific literature for those that want to learn more. It is well worth the time investment and does not require any particular background knowledge on the part of the reader to understand the material in the book.

There is no downloadable PDF for this book, so it has to be read online. There is a cached version of the book available here that should contain most of the sections.

Emil Karlsson

Debunker of pseudoscience.

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