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Weller, Nina; Clowes, Petra; Dobler, Gerhard; Saathoff, Elmar; Kroidl, Inge; Ntinginya, Nyanda Elias; Maboko, Leonard; Löscher, Thomas; Hoelscher, Michael and Heinrich, Norbert (2014): Seroprevalence of Alphavirus Antibodies in a Cross-Sectional Study in Southwestern Tanzania Suggests Endemic Circulation of Chikungunya.
In: PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 8(7), e2979 [PDF, 606kB]


Background: To date, Alphavirus infections and their most prominent member, chikungunya fever, a viral disease which first became apparent in Tanzania in 1953, have been very little investigated in regions without epidemic occurrence. Few data exist on burden of disease and socio-economic and environmental covariates disposing to infection. Methods: A cross-sectional seroprevalence study was undertaken in 1,215 persons from Mbeya region, South-Western Tanzania, to determine the seroprevalence of anti-Alphavirus IgG antibodies, and to investigate associated risk factors. Results: 18% of 1,215 samples were positive for Alphavirus IgG. Seropositivity was associated with participant age, low to intermediate elevation, flat terrain and with IgG positivity for Rift Valley fever, Flaviviridae, and rickettsiae of the spotted fever group. When comparing the geographical distribution of Alphavirus seropositivity to that of Rift Valley fever, it was obvious that Alphaviruses had spread more widely throughout the study area, while Rift Valley fever was concentrated along the shore of Lake Malawi. Conclusion: Alphavirus infections may contribute significantly to the febrile disease burden in the study area, and are associated with several arthropod-borne infections. Their spread seems only limited by factors affecting mosquitoes, and seems less restricted than that of Rift Valley fever.

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