Dengue epidemics in the Caribbean-temperature indices to gauge the potential for onset of dengue

  • Dharmaratne Amarakoon
  • Anthony Chen
  • Sam Rawlins
  • Dave D. Chadee
  • Michael Taylor
  • Roxann Stennett
Original Article


The seasonality, patterns and the climate associations of the reported cases of dengue in the Caribbean were studied by analyzing the annual and monthly variability of reported cases as well as those of climate parameters (temperature and precipitation). More attention was given to Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and Jamaica, as those countries contributed mostly to the reported cases. The data were for the period 1980–2003. Results showed that the incidence of dengue in the Caribbean were higher in the last decade (1990s) compared to that in the previous decade (1980s). The yearly patterns of dengue exhibited a well-defined seasonality. The epidemics appeared to occur in the later half of the year following onset of rainfall and increasing temperature. Analysis revealed that the association of the epidemics with temperature was stronger, especially in relation to the onset of dengue, and the probability of epidemics was high during El Niño periods. In years with early warmer periods epidemics appeared to occur early, which was a scenario more probable in the year after an El Niño (an El Niño + 1 year). Indices linked to temperatures that are useful for gauging the potential for onset of dengue were examined. An index based on a moving average temperature (MAT) appeared to be effective in gauging such potential and its average (AMAT) signals a threshold effect. MAT index has potential use in adaptation and mitigation strategies.


Caribbean dengue epidemics Climate variability Correlations Disease onset Heat build up Lapse and lead time Mosquito breeding environments Moving average temperature Statistical lag 



This paper encompasses the work accomplished under the retrospective component of the AIACC SIS06 project initiated by the START secretariat in Washington D. C., and funded by GEF. Dr. Tannecia Stephenson of the Physics Department, UWI, Mona Campus is thanked for stimulating discussions on Climate Variability and helping with climate data. The cooperation rendered by the Ministry of Health and the Meteorological Services in Jamaica is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dharmaratne Amarakoon
    • 1
  • Anthony Chen
    • 1
  • Sam Rawlins
    • 2
  • Dave D. Chadee
    • 3
  • Michael Taylor
    • 1
  • Roxann Stennett
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsUniversity of the West IndiesKingston 7Jamaica
  2. 2.Caribbean Epidemiology CentrePort of SpainTrinidad, West Indies
  3. 3.Department of Public HealthUniversity of the West IndiesSt. AugustineTrinidad

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