Dengue-Blocking Mosquitoes in Trial in Vietnam November 5, 2013
Dengue fever, known more commonly as breakbone fever, causes nearly one in eighteen people to experience excruciating joint pain and headaches every year. As this disease does not yet have any specific vaccine or cure, most people suffer through days of fevers and rashes, which might develop into a hemorrhagic fever where the person may die of organ failure. The disease is transmitted to humans by female Aedes aegypti mosquito bites. While there is no treatment for dengue fever, Vietnam has recently released dengue-blocking mosquitoes that have been infected with Wolbachia, a bacterium that blocks the virus transmission cycle. Wolbachia is already present in most insects and causes no additional harm to the host. Past research has shown that mosquitoes, previously infected by arboviruses (arthropod borne viruses), with Wolbachia tested negative for the virus a few days later. If Vietnam’s trials are successful, this could mean a huge step forward in eliminating another infectious disease as most nations with dengue fever cannot afford using pesticides to control the disease.