Australian scientists said fight dengue fever in Australia
SYDNEY: Australian scientists said Monday they want to fight dengue fever — which is spread by mosquito bites — by releasing more of the buzzing, flying insects into the environment.
The mosquitoes released would be resistant to dengue and expected to quickly infiltrate the insect population in the Queensland city of Townsville and stop the spread of the disease.
Small-scale trials have already been conducted in communities in northern Australia, but coastal Townsville, with its population of 189,000, would be the first time an entire city had been targeted.
Professor Scott O´Neill from Monash University, who will meet with the Townsville community on Monday, said he hoped to begin the city-wide trial by the end of the year if given support.
“This will be the first-large scale trial of our method and we are committed to being open and responsive with the Townsville community about our research,” he said.
In the trials, mosquitoes infected with a bacteria called Wolbachia were introduced in small numbers to communities in northern Australia. Research has shown that Wolbachia prevents mosquitoes from transmitting dengue. The idea is that over time the Wolbachia mosquitoes breed out the dengue-carrying ones.