Just as mosquitoes and the diseases they carry plague tropical societies, exploiting the mosquito society’s own plague, Wolbachia bacteria, helps Indonesia fight dengue fever.
Scientists creating an epidemic of Wolbachia among mosquitoes in Indonesia dropped dengue infection rates by 77%, opening new doors in the potential control of mosquito-borne epidemics.
Sometimes called “bone-breaking fever” because of the severe joint and muscle pain resulting from the infection, dengue, mainly spread by the West Nile mosquito. Aedes aegypti, can put a human out of action for a month.
Spread around the world along trade routes from Asia since the 2nd century BCE, there are now between 100 and 400 million infections worldwide each year.
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The city of Yogyakarta in Indonesia was the site of a World Mosquito Program trial to see if dengue could be controlled using a species of bacteria often housed in a. Egypt. Wolbachia is perhaps the most common reproductive parasite that exists in the biosphere, and between 25 and 70% of all insect species carry it.
The logic is that this “miraculous” bacterium lives in the mosquito exactly where dengue is trying to go, while also competing for resources like food. The theory is that Wolbachia would outperform the competition and prevent dengue fever from replicating.
It was not far because Wolbachia was also used to prevent the spread of the Zika virus in Brazil in 2016.
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Five million mosquito eggs were infected with Wolbachia, and were left in buckets of water around town for 9 months to build up a consistent population of infected mozzies.
The results were vaccine successes, with the spread of the four varieties of Dengue reduced by 77% and the hospitalization rate by 86%, in 12 geographic areas of Yogyakarta where they were deployed compared to 12 other areas. in which they were not.
The director of impact evaluation at the World Mosquito Program called the results âgroundbreaking,â adding that âwe believe they can have an even greater impact when deployed on a large scale in major cities across the country. world, where dengue fever is a huge public health problem. “
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