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Author Topic: Infected Mosquitoes Enlisted to Stop Zika Virus, Other Diseases  (Read 126 times)

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Zika in Latin America. Yellow fever in Africa. Dengue across the tropics. Three diseases on the rise. All three carried by one mosquito: Aedes aegypti.

Then why are schoolchildren raising and releasing these mosquitoes in Townsville, Australia, in a state that regularly suffers dengue outbreaks?

"To be honest, it sounded a little counter-productive," said Townsville science teacher Michael Browne.

But Browne and his students are part of a new strategy to fight dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases. The insect eggs they take home are infected with harmless bacteria called Wolbachia. The bacteria live inside the mosquitoes' cells and, in ways that are not entirely clear, block the insects from transmitting viruses including dengue, chikungunya and Zika.

Over the last five years, Scott O'Neill at Monash University and his colleagues have been introducing Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes in neighborhoods in Townsville and Cairns. And it seems to be working.

"In all of those areas, we haven't seen any dengue transmission occurring, but occurring in neighboring areas," he said.

t's promising, but it's not proof. A study underway in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, aims to show whether Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes actually can stop dengue.


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