A team of scientists infected mosquitoes with a bacteria that reduces their ability to spread dengue. The results of the experiment showed that the transmission of the disease was reduced by a large percentage, as was that of people who needed hospitalization.
The experiment included five million mosquito eggs infected with the Wolbachia bacteria, which were deposited in buckets of water and distributed throughout the city of Yogyakarta, in Indonesia.
Wolbachia bacteria do not harm the mosquito, but it is located in areas of its body where dengue usually penetrates, in this way the bacterium makes it difficult for dengue to reproduce, minimizing the chances of infection.
The process of the population of mosquitoes infected with this bacterium took the researchers nine months since the eggs had to be renewed every two weeks. Yogyakarta was divided into 24 zones, but only in 12 of them were mosquitoes released.
The experiment allowed the scientists to identify that dengue cases were reduced by 77% and found that the number of patients requiring hospitalization decreased by 86%.
Dr. Katie Anders said, It is very exciting. The result is better than we expected, to be honest. We believe that it can have a greater impact when applied in large cities around the world, where dengue is a huge public health problem.
The scientists believe that these results may help to gain full control of dengue because the wolbachia bacteria is spectacularly manipulative and is also capable of altering the fertility of mosquitoes. Furthermore, this bacterium can be transmitted to the next generation of mosquitoes, sustaining itself for a long time and protecting people from dengue infections.