Eliminate dengue

Eliminate dengue

31 August 2011

A novel solution

Scott O'NeillMonash researchers have made a breakthrough that is changing the way we tackle mosquito-borne viruses. Studies show that introducing the Wolbachia strain into wild mosquito populations protect them from the dengue virus. And when mosquitoes don’t carry the virus, they can’t transmit it to humans.

With no specific antiviral medicines available to treat the disease, and more than two billion people living in dengue transmission zones, the breakthrough could save thousands of lives in the developing world.

The research, led by Professor Scott O’Neill, Dean of the University’s Faculty of Science, was published last week in the prestigious journal, Nature. “Current control methods, largely based around insecticide use, are failing to stop the global dengue problem,” Professor O’Neill said.

“We hope to develop a new control method that could provide a practical, sustainable and cost-effective approach to dengue suppression around the world.”

In January this year, mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia were released in two suburbs in Cairns and within three months Wolbachia hadsuccessfully invaded the local mosquito populations.

“These findings tell us that Wolbachia-based strategies are practical to implement and might hold the key to a new sustainable approach to dengue control, an approach that should be particularly suited to large cities of the developing world where conventional control with insecticides is largely ineffective and prohibitively expensive,” said Professor O’Neill.