Mosquito Trials Raise Hopes Of Defeating Dengue
Faizan Hashmi 12 days ago Tue 10th September 2019 | 09:20 AM
Nha Trang, Vietnam, Sept 10 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 10th Sep, 2019 ) :Hundreds dead in the Philippines; a threefold increase of cases in Vietnam; hospitals overrun in Malaysia, Myanmar and Cambodia -- dengue is ravaging Southeast Asia this year due in part to rising temperatures and low immunity to new strains.
But one group of scientists is rolling out trials to breed dengue-resistant bugs in a bid to tackle one of the world's leading mosquito-borne illnesses, raising hopes the untreatable disease can finally be beaten.
The World Mosquito Program (WMP) has pioneered a method where male and female Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes are infected with the disease-resistant bacteria called Wolbachia before being released into the wild.
In a matter of weeks, baby mosquitoes are born carrying Wolbachia, which acts as a disease buffer for the bugs -- making it harder for them to pass on not only dengue, but Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever.
She worries less after the trials but still makes her kids sleep under nets and no longer leaves stagnant water to collect in the pots around her garden, which offer ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
"I feel at ease now, 70 to 80 percent safe, but I still have to be careful," Thu said from her leafy compound.
Today, mosquitoes still buzz about in the open-air shops, cafes and homes of Vinh Luong, but the majority in the test areas now carry Wolbachia compared to none before the trials, WMP said.
Convincing wary residents like Thu, along with health officials and ethics boards, that the mosquitoes won't make them sick was not an easy task.
Residents have long ascribed to the official motto "no mosquitoes, no larvae, no dengue" to avoid the virus, dubbed "breakbone fever" because of its severe flu-like symptoms.
Dengue is passed along to humans by infected mosquitoes, which thrive in crowded, hot and humid neighbourhoods like Thu's.
Cases have surged not only in Vietnam this year but across Southeast Asia, with around 670,000 infected and more than 1,800 people dead in the region, according to an AFP tally of national and World Health Organization data.
Experts say it's the worst outbreak in years.