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  • This New Malaysian Breakthrough Might Help Prevent The Spread Of The Dengue Virus

    It proved effective in Kuala Lumpur, where thousands of dengue cases were recorded.
    by Kate Borbon .
This New Malaysian Breakthrough Might Help Prevent The Spread Of The Dengue Virus
PHOTO BY iStock
  • A recent breakthrough accomplished by a team of international researchers might be the key to suppress — if not eradicate — the dengue virus.

    According to a study published on November 22 in the journal Current Biology, researchers from the University of Melbourne (Australia), the University of Glasgow (UK), and the Institute for Medical Research (Malaysia) used a strain of the bacteria Wolbachia, which inhibit mosquitoes from transmitting viruses to humans, to reduce dengue cases at various sites in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    Outbreak News Today reports that the researchers released batches of male and female Aedes egypti mosquitoes carrying the wAlbB strain of Wolbachia into the wild in six sites in Kuala Lumpur which saw high numbers of dengue transmission.

    The mosquitoes mated with the wild mosquito population. This resulted in the spread and establishment of the Wolbachia bacteria. Over a year after the mosquito releases ended, the researchers measured over 90 percent frequency of mosquitoes carrying the bacteria.

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    The release of the Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes led to a 40-percent decrease in the number of dengue cases, according to Outbreak News Today.

    Professor Ary Hoffman of the University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute said that these results can make a difference in countries with a high incidence of dengue, including Malaysia, where 118,416 dengue cases and 164 deaths have been recorded from January 1 to November 27, Philstar reports.

    “This study provides us with a new Wolbachia strain for field release and highlights disease impact within a complex urban setting where dengue incidence rates are high,” he stated.

    “The intervention succeeded despite ongoing pesticide applications and other challenges that can make it hard for the Wolbachia to become established. The approach holds promise not only in Malaysia but also in other countries.”

    Professor Steven Sinkins of the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research emphasized how this intervention can be effective in countries with hot climates.

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    “The findings show that we have a strain of Wolbachia that can be used to effectively reduce the number of dengue cases in very hot climates. The next step is to deploy this strain in more and larger sites, but we are now confident that this will become an effective way to control dengue on a large scale.”

    According to a Philstar report, Anakalusugan Party List Representative Mike Defensor has also recognized how this breakthrough can help curb the incidence of dengue in the Philippines.

    In August this year, the Department of Health (DOH) declared a nationwide dengue epidemic after more than 146,000 cases of the virus were recorded.

    “We understand that Malaysia has brought in the Wolbachia bacteria, which retards the dengue virus in the Aedes mosquito and lessens the risk of the disease getting passed on to humans,” said Rep. Defensor, who is also vice-chairman of the House of Representatives’ committee on health.

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    He also emphasized the need for a review of the National Dengue Prevention and Control Program to find how it can be better implemented to reduce the number of dengue cases in the Philippines.

    In light of the dengue epidemic, should you have your child vaccinated against the virus? Click here to learn what health experts have to say.

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