Mosquitoes Infected With Wolbachia Found Unable To Transmit Dengue

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With no cure for dengue and no vaccine, public health officials are looking at ways to prevent transmission of dengue.

The World Mosquito Program is infecting mosquitoes with Wolbachia to prevent the transmission of dengue.

Dengue is a disease particularly known for its intense fevers and chills. Some cases have been known to be fatal. There is currently no vaccine to prevent dengue and when it is contracted treatment is focused primarily on alleviating symptoms.

Scientists at the World Mosquito Program have found that mosquitoes that have been introduced with the bacterium Wolbachia are unable to transmit the dengue virus.

"We don't see any change in the population size of the mosquitoes. And they still bite us. So unfortunately we don't solve that problem," Cameron Simmons, director of the impact assessment team at the World Mosquito Program said. "What we do is solve the problem of those mosquitoes being transmitters of these medically important diseases."

The disease increases in prevalence throughout Southeast Asia during monsoon season.

"Throughout Southeast Asia, dengue is a guarantee every rainy season," Simmons said. "And so communities know — and indeed our public health colleagues in those communities know — that what they're doing at the moment doesn't work."

The effectiveness of the intervention is currently being tested in a controlled setting and has reduced the number of dengue cases by 70-75% in treated communities. However, these results might not translate in real life do to the constant migration of mosquitoes into new areas.

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