Spatial Distribution and Long-Term Persistence of Wolbachia-Infected Aedes aegypti in the Mentari Court, Malaysia

Y. L. Cheong, W. A. Nazni, H. L. Lee, A. NoorAfizah, I. C. MohdKhairuddin, G. M. R. Kamarul, N. M. N. Nizam, M. A. K. Arif, Z. M. NurZatilAqmar, S. M. Irwan, K. Khadijah, Y. M. Paid, O. Topek, A. H. Hasnor, R. AbuBakar, B. Singh Gill, K. Fadzilah, A. Tahi,  Insects,  14. 2023.

Dengue is endemic in Malaysia, and vector control strategies are vital to reduce dengue transmission. The Wolbachia strain wAlbB carried by both sexes of Ae. aegypti was released in Mentari Court, a high-rise residential site, in October 2017 and stopped after 20 weeks. Wolbachia frequencies are still being monitored at multiple traps across this site, providing an opportunity to examine the spatiotemporal distribution of Wolbachia and mosquito density with respect to year, residential block, and floor, using spatial interpolation in ArcGIS, GLMs, and contingency analyses. In just 12 weeks, Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes were established right across the Mentari Court site with an overall infection frequency of >90%. To date, the Wolbachia frequency of Ae. aegypti has remained high in all areas across the site despite releases finishing four years ago. Nevertheless, the Wolbachia invaded more rapidly in some residential blocks than others, and also showed a relatively higher frequency on the eighth floor. The Ae. aegypti index tended to differ somewhat between residential blocks, whilst the Ae. albopictus index was relatively higher at the top and bottom floors of buildings. In Mentari Court, only a short release period was required to infiltrate Wolbachia completely and stably into the natural population. The results inform future releases in comparable sites in a dengue control programme.

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