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Scientists are Injecting Mosquitoes with Special Bacteria that Could Prevent Dengue Virus

Researchers injected a batch of lab-bred mosquitoes with Wolbachia before letting them out to breed in the city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

News18.com

Updated:November 22, 2019, 5:43 PM IST
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Scientists are Injecting Mosquitoes with Special Bacteria that Could Prevent Dengue Virus
Representative image.

Humans have found a potentially powerful ally in a type of bacteria that has the ability to drastically reduce cases of dengue fever among humans.

Even as mosquito-borne menace continues to kill people around the world, researchers around the world have been trying to inject mosquitoes with the Wolbachia bacteria, a particular strain that does not entirely kill the dengue virus but slows it down, preventing mosquitoes from spreading it further.

Researchers from the universities of Glasgow and Melbourne recently injected a batch of lab-bred mosquitoes with Wolbachia before letting them out to breed in the city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. According to scientists, offspring produced by these mosquitoes would also carry the virus, making it tough for the dengue virus to compete and survive, Daily Mail reported.

Such trials have been conducted in various countries such as Vietnam and Australia with researchers reporting a dramatic reduction of cases of dengue fever. But this is the first time such an experiment has been conducted such a warm climate. If successful, the experiment could save hundreds of lives that are lost to endemic dengue ever in South America and Africa.

According to a report in BBC, researchers have found that in such trials, case of dengue fell by as much as 70 percent. Wolbachia eliminates dengue by entering mosquitoes and camping in areas that the dengue virus needs to occupy. The bacteria also uses essential resources needed by the virus to sustain itself and breed further inside the carrier.

When such a mosquito bites, it is much less likely to spread the weakened virus. Several insect species such as fruit flies are naturally infected by Wolbachia. However, Aedes aegypti, the main culprit for spreading the dengue virus is not naturally affected by it and need to be manually injected at the egg stage.

As per data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of the world population is at risk from dengue. Though Dengue fever does not kill as many people as malaria annually, the growing incidence is cause for concern for healthcare professionals around the world.

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