Quantifying the impact of Wolbachia releases on dengue infection in Townsville, Australia

Ogunlade, S. T. Adekunle, A. I. Meehan, M. T. McBryde, E. S.,  Scientific Reports,  13:14932. 2023.

From October 2014 to February 2019, local authorities in Townsville, North Queensland, Australia continually introduced Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes to control seasonal outbreaks of dengue infection. In this study, we develop a mathematical modelling framework to estimate the effectiveness of this intervention as well as the relative dengue transmission rates of Wolbachia-infected and wild-type mosquitoes. We find that the transmission rate of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes is reduced approximately by a factor of 20 relative to the uninfected wild-type population. In addition, the Townsville Wolbachia release program led to a 65% reduction in predicted dengue incidence during the release period and over 95% reduction in the 24 months that followed. Finally, to investigate the potential impact of other Wolbachia release programs, we use our estimates of relative transmissibility to calculate the relationship between the reproductive number of dengue and the proportion of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes in the vector population.

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