“Miraculous” bacteria introduced into mosquitoes reduced Dengue fever by 77% | PUBLIC .MD

Dengue fever fell by 77% in an unprecedented study, where mosquitoes that spread the disease were genetically modified, informs BBC.

Scientists have used mosquitoes infected with a “miracle” bacterium, which reduces the insect’s ability to spread the virus.

The test took place in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta City and will be extended, in the hope that this change in mosquitoes will lead to the eradication of the virus as it causes Dengue fever.

The “World Mosquito Program” is an initiative that fights to eradicate mosquito-borne diseases. The team behind the program says recent results could be a solution to the virus that affects large numbers of people.

Dengue fever was not a known disease 50 years ago, but it turned into a slow pandemic and the number of cases rose sharply. For example, in 1970 only nine countries experienced severe epidemics. Now, there are about 400 million cases a year.

Dengue fever is also known as “bone fever” because it causes severe pain in muscles and bones, and severe epidemics can overwhelm hospitals.

The enemy of the enemy

Mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria were used in the test. One of the researchers, Katie Anders, described the bacterium as “naturally miraculous”.

Wolbachia does not hurt the mosquito, but the bacterium is hosted by the insect in the same part of the body where the virus that causes Dengue fever enters. The bacterium competes for resources with the virus, and it is much harder for it to reproduce, so the mosquito is much less likely to become infected when it bites.

In the test, five million mosquito eggs were infected with Wolbachia. The eggs were placed in buckets of water in the city, and the process of building an infected mosquito population took nine months. The Indonesian city of Yogyakarta City was divided into 24 zones, and mosquitoes were released in only half of them.

The results of the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, show a 77% reduction in cases and an 86% reduction in people who needed hospitalization after mosquitoes were released.

“We are very excited, the results are better than we expected,” Katie Anders told the BBC.

The technique has generated such good results that mosquitoes have been released throughout the city and the project is to be extended to neighboring areas, with the aim of eradicating Dengue fever in the region.

“The result is unprecedented. We believe the process could have an even greater impact when it takes place in large cities, where Dengue fever is a major health problem,” Anders said.

The Wolbachia bacterium can also alter the fertility of the host, to ensure that it is transmitted to the next generation of mosquitoes. This means that once established in the host, it remains active for a long time and protects against Dengue fever infection.

Dr. Yudiria Amelia, coordinator of the Yogyakarta City Disease Prevention Program, said she was pleased with the result. “We are pleased with the results and hope that this method can be implemented in all areas of Yogyakarta City and then in all cities in Indonesia.”

David Hamer, a professor at Boston University, said the method has “interesting potential” for other diseases spread by mosquito bites, such as Zika, yellow fever or chikungunya.

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