You can get dengue virus infections from the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite infected humans, and later transmit infection to other people they bite. Two main species of mosquito, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, have been responsible for all cases of dengue transmitted in this country. Dengue is not contagious from person to person.
In a recent study at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), researchers discovered a key step in how the dengue virus infects a cell. Led by Leonid V. Chernomordik, Ph.D., of the Membrane Biology Section, the group spent many years studying how the dengue virus is released from its own protective membrane and fuses with the target membrane in order to infect a cell. They found that two conditions were essential for fusion: an acidic environment and a negatively charged target membrane, conditions that are present only at certain points in the infection process. Dr. Chernomordik hopes that the new findings will allow researchers to find and test new ways of disrupting the fusion process to prevent dengue infection. For more information on this research, including a diagram of the infection process, see the NICHD news release.
Last Updated October 14, 2010