Dengue Outbreaks May Be Prevented By Specially-Bred Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes were bred to carry the Wolbachia bacteria that helps in preventing the transmission of the dengue virus.

Updated16 May 2019, 07:12 AM IST
Fit
2 min read

Australian researchers have successfully protected a city from dengue outbreaks after releasing mosquitoes which were bred in captivity that can’t spread the virus.

These mosquitoes were bred to carry the Wolbachia bacteria that helps in the prevention of the transmission of the deadly viruses. They were then released in Townsville in Queensland, Australia over 66 square kilometres so that could naturally breed.

The researchers found that in the four years since the mosquitoes were released in the area, no new cases of dengue were reported. This is the first time that such an experiment has been successful.

Speaking to The Guardian, Scott O’Neill, Director, World Mosquito Program, Monash University, Australia, said:

We are wanting to have a really major impact on disease. For dengue and Zika nothing’s working at the moment for control. There’s evidence of a growing disease burden and there was the big Zika pandemic that stripped through the Americas recently and the rest of the world. I think we’ve got something here that’s going to have a significant impact and I think this study is the first indication that it’s looking very promising.
Scott O’Neill, Director, World Mosquito Program, Monash University, Australia

Researchers are hoping to expand the findings of this experiment to other countries as well. They are now conducting random trials in Indonesia. They released mosquitoes in Brazil hoping to battle the outbreaks of the Zika virus. In Rio, the mosquitoes have been released over a wider area of land where the population is over 1.5 million.

Rio is one of the hardest places to work in. If we can be successful in Rio we can probably be successful anywhere in the world.
Scott O’Neill, Director, World Mosquito Program, Monash University, Australia

Researchers are hoping to use the same mechanism against malaria in the long run if these trials prove successful, safe and effective.

In Delhi, a total of 56 dengue cases were recorded this season with 7 reported till August 4, 2018.

In 2017 over 33,964 cases of dengue were reported across India.

The World Health Organisation reports that about half of the world’s population is now at risk of getting infected by dengue, which causes 50 to 100 million infections per year worldwide.

(With inputs from media reports)

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Published: 08 Aug 2018, 05:49 AM IST

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