Sera were collected from a total of 122 children, comprising 117 cases with undifferentiated fever and 5 cases with dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), during June to September 1994 in Karachi, Pakistan. Sera were tested by the IgM-capture ELISA using dengue type 1 (D1), dengue type 2 (D2), West Nile (WN), and Japanese encephalitis (JE) viral antigens. Among 92 single sera from undifferentiated fever cases, IgM antibodies were detected in 5 cases by D1, 8 cases by D2, and 5 cases by WN antigens, respectively. Corresponding number of positives among 25 paired sera from undifferentiated fever cases were 3 by D1, 6 by 02, and 1 by WN antigen. Four out of 5 DHF cases possessed anti-D1 as well as anti-D2 IgM antibodies. Only a single DHF case was positive for anti-WN IgM antibodies. Anti-JE IgM antibodies were not detected in any of the tested serum specimens.
Clinical manifestations of undifferentiated fever patients were generally non specific, but the percentage of children with anemia, hepatomegaly and splenomegaly was higher in patients possessing anti-dengue IgM antibodies than those without. Among the groups with anti-dengue IgM antibodies, those possessing only anti-D2 but not anti-D1 IgM antibodies showed higher percentages with cough, edema, and splenomegaly.
The results indicated that up to 26% of the undifferentiated fever cases were caused by dengue virus infection in Karachi, Pakistan.