8 October, 2021
An end to dengue fever in sight
IN A first for the Southern Hemisphere, researchers have shown a bacteria can successfully sterilise and eradicate the invasive, disease carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito which is responsible for spreading dengue, yellow fever and Zika.
The breakthrough could support the suppression and potential eradication of Aedes aegypti worldwide.
The results of this landmark trial were published today in an international scientific journal (PNAS).
The trial involved releasing three million male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Northern Queensland, sterilised with bacteria called Wolbachia, across three trial sites over a 20-week period during the summer of 2018.
The sterile male insects search out and mate with wild females, preventing the production of offspring.
Scientists returned the following year and found one of the trial sites, Mourilyan in Queensland, was almost devoid of mosquitoes.
JCU Adjunct Professor Scott Ritchie said the Wolbachia trial was a successful international collaboration which saw contemporary science working together with cutting-edge technology, to help eliminate the dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito.
“It was a hugely successful project. We reared the three million male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes needed for the trial in the insectary at James Cook University in Cairns,” Prof Ritchie said.
The technique can also be used remove the virus-transmitting Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, that has now established at Australia’s doorstep in the Torres Strait Islands.