Dengue fever is the most common arboviral infection in humans, with viral transmissions occurring in more than 100 countries in tropical regions. A global strategy for dengue prevention and control was established more than 10 years ago. However, the factors that drive the transmission of the dengue virus and subsequent viral infection continue unabated. The largest dengue outbreaks in Taiwan since World War II occurred in two recent successive years: 2014 and 2015.
We performed a systematic analysis to detect and recognize spatial and temporal clustering patterns of dengue incidence in geographical areas of Taiwan, using the map-based pattern recognition procedure and scan test. Our aim was to recognize geographical heterogeneity patterns of varying dengue incidence intensity and detect hierarchical incidence intensity clusters.
Using the map-based pattern recognition procedure, we identified and delineated two separate hierarchical dengue incidence intensity clusters that comprise multiple mutually adjacent geographical units with high dengue incidence rates. We also found that that dengue incidence tends to peak simultaneously and homogeneously among the neighboring geographic units with high rates in the same cluster.
Beyond significance testing, this study is particularly desired by and useful for health authorities who require optimal characteristics of disease incidence patterns on maps and over time. Among the integrated components for effective prevention and control of dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever are active surveillance and community-based integrated mosquito control, for which this study provides valuable inferences. Effective dengue prevention and control programs in Taiwan are critical, and have the added benefit of controlling the potential emergence of Zika.