Researchers in Indonesia are hailing a naturally-occurring bacteria as a breakthrough in dengue prevention after the microbe was found to cast a significant effect in making the mosquitoes disease-sterile.
The bacteria called Wolbachia when miro-injected in mosquitoes, the ability of the bugs to spread dengue went down significantly, the researchers found.
Researchers came to the conclusion after infecting mosquitoes with the bacteria in Indonesia’s Yogyakarta city where dengue is endemic, and the number of diseases in the area was reduced by a dramatic 77 percent.
According to the World Mosquitoes Program: “THE RESULTS OF OUR 3-YEAR RANDOMISED CONTROLLED TRIAL IN YOGYAKARTA PROVIDE COMPELLING GOLD STANDARD EVIDENCE FOR THE EFFICACY OF THE WOLBACHIA METHOD IN CONTROLLING DENGUE.”
Researchers hailed the study as a breakthrough in disease control and prevention, and they seek to carry out the same outside the Yogyakarta region, and subsequently other parts of the world where dengue is a public health issue.
To conduct the study, researchers reportedly spread mosquito eggs infected with Wolbachia within a 13-square-kilometer radius of the city. In total, 6 million mosquitoes were released in homes across hoping they will infect the other mosquitoes in the region.
It must be noted, the study took place in a limited diameter, and other parts of the city were still under usual disease prevention methods.
Yogyakarta city is the capital of Yogyakarta special region -one of Indonesia’s last remaining monarchy and has a population of 422,732 as per the 2017 census.
However, the study site had a population of 312,000; and 373 houses hosted the mosquitoes trap and 302,748 bugs were analyzed.
“We are really hopeful this will lead to local elimination [of dengue] in Yogyakarta city, and the next stage is to scale up beyond Yogyakarta to other parts of Indonesia,” one of the lead study authors and director of impact assessment at the World Mosquito Program Dr. Katie Anders told The Guardian.
Dr. Anders said, it not clear why the specific bacteria inhabited the spread of the disease, but she suggests, it could be the virus and the bacteria compete for the resources to replicate.
The World Health Organization has recorded 4.3 million cases of dengue around the world, and there is no specific treatment for the disease.
This is not the first time such a study was conducted. Previously the same method was also tested for Queensland where dengue is a concern, but never in a randomized clinical trial like in case of the Yogyakarta trail.
“This is the result we’ve been waiting for. We have evidence our Wolbachia method is safe, sustainable, and reduces the incidence of dengue,” World Mosquito Program Director, Scott O’Neill said.
“Now we can scale this intervention across cities. It gives us great confidence for how we can scale this work worldwide across large urban populations.”