Bacteria-Laced Mosquitoes Limit Spread of Dengue

A. Heidt,  The Scientist,  2020.

Mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, and Zika sicken nearly 700 million people each year, and the preliminary results of a new study hint at a possible way of drastically minimizing the spread of such illnesses.

Researchers have infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes—the species responsible for passing on many diseases—with bacteria called Wolbachia with the intent of reducing the insects’ ability to pass on dengue to people. When these modified mosquitoes were released in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, the rates of dengue dropped by 77 percent over two years, making it four times less likely that a person would contract the disease by the end of the study than in years past.

“It is a huge breakthrough,” Nicholas Jewell, a biostatistician at the University of California, Berkeley, who designed the study, said in an August 26 press release announcing the findings. While the full data behind the study are yet to be released, Jewell says the success in one city is promising. “If this can be replicated and used widely, it could eradicate dengue from several parts of the world for many years.” Detailed results will be shared at an international scientific congress in November, The Guardian reports.

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