A serological framework to investigate acute primary and post-primary dengue cases reporting across the Philippines.


In dengue-endemic countries, targeting limited control interventions to populations at risk of severe disease could enable increased efficiency. Individuals who have had their first (primary) dengue infection are at risk of developing more severe secondary disease, thus could be targeted for disease prevention. Currently, there is no reliable algorithm for determining primary and post-primary (infection with more than one flavivirus) status from a single serum sample. In this study, we developed and validated an immune status algorithm using single acute serum samples from reporting patients and investigated dengue immuno-epidemiological patterns across the Philippines.

During 2015/2016, a cross-sectional sample of 10,137 dengue case reports provided serum for molecular (anti-DENV PCR) and serological (anti-DENV IgM/G capture ELISA) assay. Using mixture modelling, we re-assessed IgM/G seroprevalence and estimated functional, disease day-specific, IgG:IgM ratios that categorised the reporting population as negative, historical, primary and post-primary for dengue. We validated our algorithm against WHO gold standard criteria and investigated cross-reactivity with Zika by assaying a random subset for anti-ZIKV IgM and IgG. Lastly, using our algorithm, we explored immuno-epidemiological patterns of dengue across the Philippines.

Our dengue immune status algorithm can equip surveillance operations with the means to target dengue control efforts. The algorithm accurately identified primary dengue infections who are at risk of future severe disease.

Our modelled IgM and IgG seroprevalence thresholds were lower than kit-provided thresholds. Individuals anti-DENV PCR+ or IgM+ were classified as active dengue infections (83.1%, 6998/8425). IgG- and IgG+ active dengue infections on disease days 1 and 2 were categorised as primary and post-primary, respectively, while those on disease days 3 to 5 with IgG:IgM ratios below and above 0.45 were classified as primary and post-primary, respectively. A significant proportion of post-primary dengue infections had elevated anti-ZIKV IgG inferring previous Zika exposure. Our algorithm achieved 90.5% serological agreement with WHO standard practice. Post-primary dengue infections were more likely to be older and present with severe symptoms. Finally, we identified a spatio-temporal cluster of primary dengue case reporting in northern Luzon during 2016.

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