Infecting mosquitoes with natural bacteria can help reduce dengue infections: Study

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on August 27, 2020 Published on August 27, 2020

World Mosquito Program study indicated that Wolbachia bacteria have helped reduce infections in dengue-prone areas

Infecting mosquitoes that transmit viruses causing dengue with natural bacteria can help reduce infections according to a study conducted by the World Mosquito Program.

According to the trial conducted by the World Mosquito Program with its Indonesia partners the Tahija Foundation and Universitas Gadjah Mada, infecting mosquitos with Wolbachia bacteria has helped reduced infections in dengue-prone areas.

“The first results of a cluster randomised controlled trial of its Wolbachia method, showing a 77 per cent reduction in the incidence of virologically-confirmed dengue in Wolbachia-treated areas of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, compared to untreated areas,” WMP said in an official release.

“Dengue viruses are transmitted between humans primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. These mosquitoes also spread the Zika virus and chikungunya virus,” it explained.

As part of the trial, 12 similarly-sized areas of Yogyakarta city were chosen at random to receive wMel Wolbachia-deployments along with routine dengue control measures.

“The trial enrolled 8,144 participants aged three to 45 years who presented to one of 18 primary care clinics with acute undifferentiated fever of between 1 to 4 days duration. A case test-negative design was used to measure the efficacy of wMel in reducing the incidence of virologically-confirmed dengue cases over a 27-month period. Wolbachia deployments were well-accepted by the community and there have been no safety concerns,” WMP said.

Success for the people

WMP Indonesia Principal Investigator, Prof Adi Utarini from Universitas Gadjah Mada, said: “This exciting result of the trial is a great success for the people of Yogyakarta. Indonesia has seven million dengue cases every year. This trial result shows the significant impact the Wolbachia method can have in reducing dengue in urban populations.”

Researchers will now be calling the trial to cities in order to determine the efficacy of the method. Detailed results of the current trial will be presented at an international scientific congress in November 2020 and published in a peer-reviewed journal.

World Mosquito Program Director, Scott O’Neill said, “We have evidence our Wolbachia method is safe, sustainable and reduces incidence of dengue. Now we can scale this intervention across cities. It gives us great confidence for how we can scale this work worldwide across large urban populations.”

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Published on August 27, 2020
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