Friday, October 7, 2011

Dengue Blocking Mosquitoes Released

The Dengue virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and affects millions of people In areas like Indonesia, South and Central America, Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and  Australia. Now a team of scientists from Australia are using another parasite,  a bacterium called Wolbachia to fight the spread of the disease. Wolbachia infects many species of insects & is transmitted in the eggs of infected females.  It takes several weeks for the virus to reproduce in the insects’ guts, so  only older mosquitoes can transmit dengue fever.  By using a strain of  Wolbachia  that halves the lifetimes of infected females it is possible to drastically reduce their chance of spreading the disease. The team released almost 300,000 mosquitoes in selected areas of Queensland & then trapped & checked the populations for  Wolbachia. Within only a few months  of the proportion of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes had risen from nothing to between 80 & 90%. In five months it had infected virtually the whole population & had begun to spread to surrounding neighbourhoods. 

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