Wolbachia-mediated sterility suppresses Aedes aegypti populations in the urban tropics

Project Wolbachia-Singapore Consortium,  medRxiv,  2021.

Incompatible insect technique (IIT) via releases of male Wolbachiainfected mosquitoes is a promising tool for dengue control. In a three-year trial in Singaporean high-rise housing estates, we demonstrated that Wolbachia-based IIT dramatically reduces both wildtype Aedes aegypti populations [reductions of 92.7% (95% CI: 84.7%–95.8%) and 98.3% (97.7%–99.8%)] and dengue incidence [reductions of 71% (43%-87%) to 88% (57%-99%)] in the targeted areas. The study highlights the need to ensure adequate vertical distribution of released males in high-rise buildings, address immigration of wildtype females from neighboring areas, and prevent and mitigate stable establishment of Wolbachia in field mosquito populations. Our results demonstrate the potential of Wolbachia-based IIT (supplemented with irradiation, in Singapore’s context) for strengthening dengue control in tropical cities, where dengue burden is the greatest.

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