Bacteria may be the best ally in the fight against dengue fever, the disease that infects up to 400 million people each year. A very promising study shows that it is possible to treat mosquitoes with bacteria that suppress a large part of the virus.
Dengue affects urban and peri-urban areas located in countries with tropical and subtropical climates. This virus infects up to 400 million people annually, causes muscle and bone pain, and can be fatal. While treatments exist, there is no vaccine to prevent this mosquito-borne disease. According to the World Health Organization, dengue fever is one of the ten biggest threats to public health.
Researchers from the World Mosquito Program (WMP) have developed an original solution that can significantly reduce dengue contamination. They were infected with tiger mosquitoes Aedes aegypti with bacteria Wolbachia. It is harmless to insects, but bacteria “replace” the virus in the body of the mosquito.
Therefore, dengue fever cannot be spread with these mosquitoes, or it spreads very little. Wolbachia, highly resistant, does not give a gift to the dengue fever found in mosquitoes. Big bonus: bacteria are passed down from generation to generation. The first test conducted in Yogyakarta, on the island of Java (Indonesia), gives hope: dengue cases have been reduced by 77%. The researchers also found an 86% reduction in people requiring hospitalization.
The success of the operation, which was restricted to one part of the city, was that the experience spread to the whole of Yogyakarta. The area can get rid of the virus in the long run. Other diseases can also be treated in the same way, such as chikungunya.