The New England Journal of Medicine reported an experiment conducted by researchers that injected mosquitoes with a particular bacteria to stop them from spreading viruses. The experiment has appeared as a successful method to reduce the spread of the deadly dengue virus in Indonesia. The researchers reported that the bacteria-injected mosquitoes thrived for three years and the number of dengue infections in the area was reduced by 77%.
The experiment and its outcome
The mosquitoes were injected with the bacteria called Wolbachia. The particular bacteria not only affected the ability of the mosquitoes to carry viruses in their bodies, but also controlled their reproduction so that they only reproduce Wolbachia-infected offsprings.
The experiment was carried out in Yogyakarta, Indonesia where a population of 8,000 people reside. The study involved twelve geographic clusters to receive the deployments of bacteria-injected mosquitoes, and another twelve geographic clusters to receive no deployments.
The experiment revealed that people living in the area with non-modified mosquitoes were diagnosed with Dengue fever at a rate of 9.4% whereas people living in the area where modified mosquitoes were deployed reported only 2.3% of the viral disease. Thus, it was established that the experiment with Wolbachia bacteria had a 77.1% efficacy rate.
The experiment was sponsored by the World Mosquito Program and Dr. Katie Ander, one of the members of the organization stated, “There have been very few randomized trials of interventions against the dengue mosquito. This trial results from Yogyakarta show conclusively that Wolbachia works to reduce dengue incidence and dengue hospitalizations.”
Impact of Dengue Virus
Dengue Virus a family virus of Flaviviridae is the main cause of dengue fever that infects as many as 400 million people every year, according to the reports of the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Reports reveal that the virus causes serious sickness in 100 million people and takes the lives of 22,000 people yearly. The World Health Organization has reported an eight-fold increase in the infection rate of the dengue virus over the last two decades.