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Dengue fever may be eradicated in Indonesia by Australian-led team

Posted by On 10:29 PM

Dengue fever may be eradicated in Indonesia by Australian-led team

Email Dengue fever may be eradicated in Indonesia by Australian-led team

Updated August 11, 2018 10:50:17

Scenic view of Yogyakarta Photo: Scientists in Yogyakarta have released 6 million Wolbachia-infected mosquitos into the city. (ABC: Phil Hemingway) Map: Australia

An Australian-led project in Indonesia is showing early signs of success in eradicating one of the world's most debilitating viruses â€" dengue fever.

Key points:

  • Mosquitos have been infected with a bacteria which renders them incapable of transmitting deng ue fever
  • Researchers expect the technology will help significantly reduce dengue cases
  • Once established in the population the bacteria is a permanent fix

Transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, dengue fever is active in more than 100 countries worldwide, infecting 400 million people every year and killing 25,000.

But scientists from the Eliminate Dengue Fever program in Indonesia believe the virus may have met its match.

"Confident? Of course I'm confident, because the potential of this project is massive," entomologist Warsito Tantowijoyo said.

With technology exported from Melbourne's Monash University, mosquitos in Yogyakarta have been infected with a bacteria called Wolbachia, which renders the insects incapable of carrying and transmitting dengue fever.

So far the Yogyakarta team has released 6 million Wolbachia-infected mosquitos, effectively breeding the disease carrying population out of existenc e.

The team are now gathering the results of the trial.

"In areas where the Wolbachia bacteria has been established, we found that there haven't been any reported cases of local virus transmission," Mr Warsito said.

"We can't say that it will eliminate all cases of dengue. But we expect this technology will significantly contribute to the reduction of dengue cases."

Monash University is the research and development hub of the program and leads the research team.

"All of the evidence is pointing towards success," said Professor Cameron Simmons, director of Impact Assessment at the World Mosquito Program.

The most common methods of controlling dengue fever, such as fumigation, are only temporary and vaccines are considered too expensive in developing countries, where the virus is most prevalent.

Man holds arm over box filled with mosquitos Photo: Scientists from the Eliminate Dengue Fever program are infecting mosquitos with a bacteria called Wolbachia. (ABC: Phil Hemingway)

The advantage of the Wolbachia bacteria is that, once established in the mosquito population, it's a permanent fix.

"This is a once-and-done application that provides potentially years or even decades of public health protection to that community," Professor Simmons said.

It is also effective against several other deadly mosquito borne diseases, like zika and chikungunya.

"[The trial is] really going to deliver, we hope, the gold standard evidence that [proves] we have a major public health intervention to control these terrible diseases," he said.

The bacteria is now being trialled in 11 other countries, with many more expressing interest.

"The demand is large. We are continually being approached by disease affected countries… our challenge is to keep up with that demand," he said.

Topics: health, disease-control, diseases-and-disorders, australia, indonesia

First posted August 11, 2018 08:49:59

Source: Google News Network: Liputan 24 English | Berita 24 English | Warta 24 English | Netizen 24 Indonesia

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