Dengue fever mosquito trial successful

This would be of interest to our readers in India: Australian scientists have successfully trialled a method for controlling Dengue fever that involves infecting populations of mosquitoes with an endosymbiotic bacteria. The bacteria kills non-infected mosquitoes that mate with an infected individual, is passed to offspring of an infected individual, and confers resistance to Dengue upon infected individuals.

Specially bred mosquitoes, incapable of growing the virus that causes the fever, have been released in Cairns and they’re passing that crucial characteristic onto the wild mosquito population. Read here

As with malaria, Dengue control generally focuses on its mosquito vectors, which can be challenging. Now, researchers have developed a way to keep the Dengue virus out of the mosquitoes: infect them with a bacterial parasite that protects its host from competing infections. The bacteria were even shown to be effective in a field test near Cairns, Australia.

Most approaches directed toward controlling the mosquitoes that carry viruses tend to run into problems because they simply kill the mosquitoes. Unless spraying is done continuously, however, mosquitoes will return from nearby areas, and the process creates a strong selective pressure that has driven the evolution of resistance to insecticides. There have been a few ideas about how mosquito control might be done through biological agents, but most of these would kill the mosquitoes too, and are likely to run into the same problems.

A better solution would be something that blocked the replication of the parasites but did nothing to harm the fitness of the mosquitos. And that’s precisely what the new research has created. Read here in ars technica

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