Mosquito ‘bacteria hack’ nearly eliminates dengue fever and could save millions of lives

A. Wilkins,  METRO,  2021.

Mosquitoes infected with a ‘miraculous’ bacteria have been shown to reduce dengue fever cases by 77%, in a groundbreaking new study. Scientists released mosquitoes infected with ‘Wolbachia’ bacteria into the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta – but only in certain zones. In the zones where the modified mosquitoes had been released, cases of dengue fell by 77% and hospitalisations dropped by 86%. The results of the study, carried out by the World Mosquito Programme (WMP), were ‘better than we could have hoped for’, according to researcher Dr. Katie Anders. Cases of dengue fever, a virus that can cause muscle and bone pain, and death, have risen rapidly in the past decades – there are an estimated 400 million cases a year. The Wolbachia bacteria used in the trial were chosen because it hides in the same parts of a mosquito’s body that dengue virus hides in. A bacteria that is benign to humans, the Wolbachia then competes for resources with the dengue virus, which makes it less likely for the mosquito to cause a dengue infection when it bites a human.

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