Massive mosquito factory in Brazil aims to halt dengue

M. Lenharo,  Nature,  2023.

The non-profit World Mosquito Program (WMP) has announced that it will release modified mosquitoes in many of Brazil’s urban areas over the next 10 years, with the aim of protecting up to 70 million people from diseases such as dengue. Researchers have tested the release of this type of mosquito — which carries a Wolbachia bacterium that stops the insect from transmitting viruses — in select cities in countries such as Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and Vietnam. But this will be the first time that the technology is dispersed nationwide. A mosquito factory will be built in a location yet to be determined in Brazil to supply the WMP’s ambitious initiative, in partnership with the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), a Brazilian public science institution in Rio de Janeiro. The facility should begin operating in 2024 and will produce up to five billion mosquitoes per year. “This will be the biggest facility in the world” to produce Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes, says Scott O’Neill, a microbiologist at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and head of the WMP. “And it will allow us in a short period of time to cover more people than in any other country.” Brazil has one of the highest rates of dengue infection in the world, reporting more than two million cases in 2022.Despite the positive results from past mosquito releases, researchers expect that it will be challenging to operate the technology at such a massive scale.

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