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Professor Bridget Wills

Professor Bridget Wills

Podcast interview

Dengue diagnosis and management

The majority of people infected with the dengue virus experience a flu-like febrile illness, but in a small proportion of patients, particularly children, the virus causes the blood vessels to become leaky which can induce shock and lead to death. Improved diagnosis and understanding of the disease process enable better outcomes for patients with severe dengue.

View Podcast Transcript

Bridget Wills

Professor of Tropical Medicine

  • Wellcome Clinical Fellow, Vietnam


Dengue is the most important mosquito-borne viral infection of humans. It represents a major problem for public health services around the world, with recent estimates indicating that 390 million infections occur each year, of which almost 100 million are symptomatic. Infection can be caused by any one of four closely related dengue viral (DENV) serotypes, transmitted between people by Aedes mosquitoes. The disease is endemic across much of Asia and Latin America, and the global footprint is expanding rapidly in parallel with the dispersal of efficient mosquito vectors across tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

One of the most important aims of the research carried out is to improve diagnosis and clinical management of patients. The majority of people who get bitten by an infected mosquito can experience an unpleasant febrile illness that is a bit like flu, but in a very small proportion of cases there can be complications which can be very serious and occasionally result in death. Differentiating dengue from other common viral illnesses during the initial febrile phase, and identifying patients at risk of disease progression, are key questions for dengue case-management as the appropriate dengue therapeutic intervention can be chosen. There are two main approaches to dengue therapeutic interventions. The first is to target the virus through the use of an antiviral, and the second is to target the immune response to the virus since this is thought to be partly responsible for the development of severe disease.