Spatial and temporal patterns of dengue infections in Timor-Leste, 2005–2013

Wangdi K., Clements A.C.A, Du T., Nery S.V. (2018) Spatial and temporal patterns of dengue infections in Timor-Leste, 2005-2013. Parasites and Vectors. 11:9.



Dengue remains an important public health problem in Timor-Leste, with several major epidemics occurring over the last 10 years. The aim of this study was to identify dengue clusters at high geographical resolution and to determine the association between local environmental characteristics and the distribution and transmission of the disease.


Notifications of dengue cases that occurred from January 2005 to December 2013 were obtained from the Ministry of Health, Timor-Leste. The population of each suco (the third-level administrative subdivision) was obtained from the Population and Housing Census 2010. Spatial autocorrelation in dengue incidence was explored using Moran’s I statistic, Local Indicators of Spatial Association (LISA), and the Getis-Ord statistics. A multivariate, Zero-Inflated, Poisson (ZIP) regression model was developed with a conditional autoregressive (CAR) prior structure, and with posterior parameters estimated using Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) simulation with Gibbs sampling.


The analysis used data from 3206 cases. Dengue incidence was highly seasonal with a large peak in January. Patients ≥ 14 years were found to be 74% [95% credible interval (CrI): 72–76%] less likely to be infected than those < 14 years, and females were 12% (95% CrI: 4–21%) more likely to suffer from dengue as compared to males. Dengue incidence increased by 0.7% (95% CrI: 0.6–0.8%) for a 1 °C increase in mean temperature; and 47% (95% CrI: 29–59%) for a 1 mm increase in precipitation. There was no significant residual spatial clustering after accounting for climate and demographic variables.


Dengue incidence was highly seasonal and spatially clustered, with positive associations with temperature, precipitation and demographic factors. These factors explained the observed spatial heterogeneity of infection.