Release of Wolbachia Infected Mosquitoes Will Help Combat Dengue in Malaysia

News in Asia
Release of Wolbachia Infected Mosquitoes Will Help Combat Dengue in Malaysia

The Health Ministry of Malaysia releases Aedes mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria to help combat dengue fever as mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria cannot spread dengue virus.

Dengue fever has been and remains an important issue for 110 countries around the world, including all Southeast Asian countries. Rates of dengue increased worldwide 30 fold between 1960 and 2010. 2.5 billion people live in the areas affected with dengue and 70% of this number are from Asia and the Pacific. Dengue fatality rate is between 1% and 5% though if adequate treatment is given it rarely surpasses 1% mark. 

In Malaysia, the pilot project of Institute for Medical Research’s (IMR) involving the release of the infected vector in Shah Alam and Keramat in 2017 has just begun to show encouraging results. While infected males can mate with females, they do not produce offsprings. Infected females, on the other hand, can produce hatchlings but these hatchlings will not be vectors.  

Wolbachia bacteria is naturally present in around 60% of insects. When Aedes mosquitoes that transmit dengue virus are infected with the bacteria, it arrests the development of the virus causing dengue and also Chikungunya fever. While mosquitoes obviously continue to bite they cannot transmit the virus any more. 

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