‘Miraculous bacteria’ to reduce dengue outbreak
Published: 08:41 PM, 10 June 2021
Scientists used mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria in the trial; Photo: Collected
Scientists have achieved groundbreaking success in using simple techniques to curb the deadly dengue. According to them, it is possible to reduce the outbreak of dengue by 77 percent by using this “miraculous” strategy.
According to a report in the British media BBC, the scientists introduced bacteria into the body of the mosquito, which greatly reduced their ability to spread dengue.
The trial was recently conducted in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The incredible results of the trial have brightened the hopes of “eradicating dengue” fever very easily.
The World Mosquito Program says the method could be an effective solution to the dengue outbreak worldwide.
Even just 50 years ago, very few people in the world knew about dengue fever. In the 70s, dengue became widespread in nine countries. And now every year more than 400 million people are suffering from this painful disease.
Scientists have used mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria in the trial. These bacteria do not harm the mosquitoes, however, it camps out in the same parts of its body that the dengue virus needs to get into.
As a result, the dengue virus and Wolbachia bacteria started competing to collect essential nutrients from the body of the mosquito. This makes it harder for the virus to reproduce and greatly reduces the chances of spreading dengue if an infected mosquito bites a human.
The Indonesian trial used 5 million mosquito eggs infected with the Wolbachia bacteria. The eggs were placed in buckets of water in Yogyakarta every two weeks. The city was split into 24 zones and the mosquitoes were released only in half of them. Thus it took about nine months for a large population of bacteria-infected mosquitoes to form there.
According to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the outbreak of dengue in the region has dropped by 77 percent since the release of the bacterial mosquito, and even the need for hospitalization among newcomers has dropped by 86 percent.
Dr. Katie Anders, who took part in the study, described this as “naturally miraculous”. “It’s very exciting, it’s better than we could have hoped for to be honest,” he said.
The technique has been so successful the mosquitoes have been released across the Yogyakarta city and its surrounding areas intending to eradicate dengue in the region.
Dr. Anders, who is also the director of impact assessment at the World Mosquito Program, said: “This result is groundbreaking.”
“We think it can have an even greater impact when it is deployed at scale in large cities around the world, where dengue is a huge public health problem,” he added.