In North America, many people think of dengue fever as occurring in tropical and, more importantly, distant places, but outbreaks of dengue this spring in Florida and Hawaii, and an explosion of cases in Central and South America over the last seven years, have returned US public attention to this disease, so painful it used to be called "break-bone" fever.
220 million people are infected with dengue worldwide each year, says the UN World Health Organization, with a case-fatality rate from the more serious, hemorrhagic form reaching 5 percent. But, because viral and rickettsial diseases like dengue, malaria, enteric diseases, and leishmaniasis are of little obvious national public health impact, and therefore commercial interest, in developed countries, they're termed "neglected diseases."
A short, excruciatingly painful illness, followed by slow recovery, for US soldiers sleeping rough in the tropics, dengue is a significant threat and tremendously relevant to troop readiness and DoD's international scope. To combat that threat, the Military Infectious Disease Research Program (MIDRP) has been working steadily to develop a vaccine.
Since 1999, SPARS has coordinated the peer review of the MIDRP programs evaluating science dedicated to the prevention, care, and treatment of these otherwise unaddressed diseases, in areas of vaccine development, disease surveillance, wound healing, the control of insect vectors, and the development of field-worthy diagnostics. Expanding its impact, MIDRP research also partners with industry, academia, and government institutions to facilitate the translation of basic research from bench to bedside.