Brazil re­leases mil­lions of mosquitoes to tackle dengue

Global Times - - World -

Brazil­ian sci­en­tists on Tues­day be­gan to un­leash the first of mil­lions of mosquitoes in­fected with a bac­te­ria meant to pre­vent the in­sects from trans­mit­ting the dengue virus to hu­mans.

Thou­sands of Aedes ae­gypti mosquitoes car­ry­ing the bac­te­ria were released in front of jour­nal­ists by sci­en­tists from the Fiocruz in­sti­tute in Rio de Janeiro.

The hope is that they will then breed and spread the bac­te­ria, dent­ing the in­sect pop­u­la­tion’s abil­ity to spread dengue and other viruses in­clud­ing Zika and chikun­gunya.

Sci­en­tists have been pre­par­ing the project – de­vel­oped by Aus­tralians who first put the Wol­bachia bac­te­ria into mosquitoes – since last year.

Dengue causes fevers, rashes, nausea and in some cases can be fa­tal, while Zika has been blamed for se­ri­ous birth de­fects.

In 2016, fears over Zika led to the United Na­tions health body to de­clare an in­ter­na­tional health emer­gency, end­ing in Novem­ber.

Fiocruz plans to re­lease 1.6 mil­lion in­fected mosquitoes a week, later step­ping that up to 3 mil­lion.

“We found that when an Aedes ae­gypti mos­quito has this [ bac­te­ria], it blocks or re­duces the ca­pac­ity of the mos­quito to trans­mit viruses like dengue, Zika and chikun­gunya,” said the head of the dengue pro­gram at Fiocruz, Lu­ciano Mor­eiro.

“So the idea is that when they are released, they will trans­mit this, as if they were im­mu­niz­ing the other mosquitoes and there­fore trans­mis­sion will be re­duced.”

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