Although Covid-19 is still at the heart of many health concerns around the world, other extremely communicable diseases are still rife in some regions. This is the case with dengue, which infected more than four million people in 2019. Fortunately, a revolutionary new method has reduced transmission by 77% in a real-world trial.
A bacterium that prevents the virus from replicating in mosquitoes
This is a big step scientists have taken in the fight against dengue fever. During a real-life study in Indonesia, it was found that dengue infections dropped dramatically. This was made possible by a bacteria that was introduced into mosquitoes that carry diseases. This study offers hope in the battle against this disease which is among the 10 biggest threats to global health, according to the World Health Organization. Recall that the number of reported cases of dengue was 4.2 million, according to the WHO. But it is estimated that there are an average of 390 million infections with the dengue virus each year, causing around 4,000 deaths.
Remember that dengue is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes in areas with a tropical climate. It is in particular the most widespread viral infections transmitted by arthropods. Thus, acting directly on mosquitoes is an essential strategy to fight this disease. According to the study published in the journal New England Journal of Medicine, having infected mosquitoes carrying dengue fever with a harmless bacteria called Wolbachia resulted in a 77% decrease in contamination in humans. Better yet, the researchers were able to observe an 86% drop in dengue-related hospitalizations.
To achieve this feat, researchers from the World Mosquito Program at Monash University in Australia and Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia used five million mosquito eggs infected with the bacteria. Wolbachi, reported BBC. The scientists explained that the bacteria did not particularly affect the mosquito, but it camps in the same parts of its body where the dengue virus must enter. In this way, the bacteria compete for resources and make the replication of the dengue virus much more difficult. Thus, the mosquito becomes less likely to cause infection when it bites a person.
An effective method that could overcome dengue
Note that this study on the introduction of the bacteria Wolbachi in the local mosquito population Aedes aegypti was carried out for three years in the city of Yogyakarta on the island of Java, Indonesia. Note that before these field studies, laboratory tests also showed positive results in reducing cases of dengue. The researchers explained that the results obtained in real conditions were consistent with previous trials, showing a long-term reduction in the incidence of dengue. Other studies corroborate these results, and a modeling study even predicted that the Wolbachia method could be enough to completely suppress dengue in the world.
« This test result shows the significant impact that the Wolbachia method can have in reducing dengue fever in urban populations. This result demonstrates how Wolbachia can be an exciting breakthrough – a new class of safe, durable and effective products for dengue control is exactly what the global community needs. Study co-author Professor Cameron Simmons said in a statement. In addition to dengue, the researchers explained that this method also helps prevent the transmission of Zika, chikungunya, yellow fever and other vector-borne diseases.