Dengue cases have fallen sharply in a city in Indonesia after mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia bacteria were introduced, according to a study released this week that gives hope in the face of a disease affecting more than 50 million people in the country. world every year.
After the introduction of the Wolbachia bacteria to a population of mosquitoes, local cases of dengue fell by 77%, show the results of this three-year experiment published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The number of infections requiring hospitalization also fell by 86% in areas of Yogyakarta city, on the island of Java, where the study was conducted.
The study was conducted by the World Mosquito Program (WMP) research program at Monash University of Australia in which Gadjah Mada University of Indonesia participated.
“This figure of 77% is really fantastic for a communicable disease and we are very happy with this result,” said Adi Utarini, public health researcher at Gadjah Mada University.
The experiment consisted of introducing the bacteria into a population of mosquitoes in specific areas of Yogyakarta to then measure the impact on the incidence of infections in humans aged 3 to 45 years.
Since the test, the Wolbachia bacteria method has been implemented throughout the city of Yogyakarta and the introduction of these mosquitoes has been extended to surrounding areas, i.e. 2.5 million inhabitants.
The bacteria prevent the virus from spreading in dengue-carrying mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, and from infecting humans when they bite them.
The result is similar to those obtained in previous tests carried out in other countries using the bacteria Wolbachia, which is found in fruit flies and other insects.
Scientists hope the method will prove to be a decisive weapon in the global battle against a potentially fatal disease.
Symptoms of dengue are most commonly muscle pain, fever, and nausea. But in severe cases dengue can cause bleeding.
“This is the result that we have been waiting for a long time. We have proof that our Wolbachia method is reliable, durable and considerably reduces cases of dengue,” said Scott O’Neill, director of the World Mosquito Program, quoted in a statement.
Dengue is the fastest-spreading mosquito-borne disease, with more than 50 million cases per year worldwide, including 8 million in Indonesia.
Studies have also shown that this method is effective in preventing the transmission of Zika, chikungunya, yellow fever and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.