Mosquitoes with Wolbachia bacteria released to fight dengue fever
Scientists have released mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria onto an island off the coast of Vietnam this month (November) in the hopes of reducing the spread of dengue fever in the region, according to The Windsor Star. Researchers have found that such mosquitoes are unable to carry the dengue virus.
Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes were released onto Tri Nguyen, an island that has a population of about 3,500 people. The insects were released both into homes and in the wild.
Dengue fever is common in tropical and subtropical parts of the world, with most people being infected in Asia.
According to Medical Daily, when scientist Scott O'Neill and his students discovered in 2008 that mosquitoes implanted with the Wolbachia bacteria could pass it on to future generations, they also found that mosquitoes' lifespans were shortened and the bacteria helped block dengue partially or entirely. The group conducted research in small communities in Australia, and found that after two and half years, The Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes had overtaken native populations and remained 95 percent dominant.
According to the World Health Organization, dengue is not transmitted from person to person, but through mosquito bites. The most common mosquito that transmits this disease is the Aedes aegypti mosquito that is infected with one of the four serotypes of dengue virus. There currently is no vaccine or treatment for the disease.
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