Scientists solve a dengue mystery: Why second infection is worse than first

A theory about dengue has been proved: Antibodies generated by a previous bout of the disease put a person at risk of more severe second infection.

For decades there has been a counterintuitive and hotly debated theory about dengue infections: that antibodies generated by a previous bout of dengue could actually put a person at risk of more severe disease if they contracted the virus a second time.

And now American and Nicaraguan scientists have published evidence that may silence the skeptics. Antibody-dependent enhancement, or ADE as it’s known in scientific circles, can happen, they reported, when subsequent infection occurs at a time when antibodies generated by the prior infection have fallen to a specific low range.

Nikos Vasilakis, an associate professor

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