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Indonesian researchers breed ‘good’ mosquitoes to prevent dengue

Researchers in Indonesia have discovered a strategy to combat disease-carrying mosquitoes by developing a mosquito type that carries a bacterium that stops viruses like dengue fever from multiplying.

Wolbachia is a bacteria found in 60 per cent of insect species, including mosquitoes, fruit flies, moths, dragonflies, and butterflies. According to the non-profit World Mosquito Program (WMP), which launched the study, it is not detected in dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

‘In principle, we are breeding the ‘good’ mosquitoes. The mosquitoes carrying dengue will mate with mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia, which will produce Wolbachia mosquitoes – the ‘good’ mosquitoes. So even if they bite people, it won’t affect them,’ Purwanti, a WMP community cadre said.

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Since 2017, a cooperative study led by WMP at Monash University in Australia and Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia have been releasing lab-bred Wolbachia mosquitoes across a few dengue fever ‘red zones’ in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The results of the study, which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in June, showed that using Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes reduced dengue cases by up to 77 per cent and hospitalizations by up to 86 per cent.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Global dengue infections have risen quickly in the recent decade with over half of the world’s population now at risk. Every year, between 100 and 400 million Dengue cases are reported.


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