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Breed mosquitoes infected with bacteria to tackle dengue:Expert

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New Delhi: Ahead of the dengue season in the national capital, an entomologist from Australia today propagated breeding of mosquitoes infected with a bacteria called Wolbachia to control transmission of the virus.

Scott Ritchie, who is a professor from Australia’s James Cook University, has been running a programme “Fight Against Dengue” there since 2005.

“Wolbachia, is a naturally-occurring bacterium is capable of impairing the ability of viruses like dengue to replicate inside the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, thereby reducing the pathogen’s transmission in human beings.

“So the approach would be to breed mosquitoes infected with the bacteria in the lab and then spread them among mosquito populations so that they infect other mosquitoes,” Ritchie said during a public lecture at AIIMS on Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika.

He also said that the bacteria ‘wolbachia’ was capable of reducing transmission of Zika which has now been declared a ‘public health emergency’ by the World Health Organisation.

With conventional Aedes control methods with insecticide use and fogging, becoming ineffective, Ritchie advocated the approach as a new sustainable way to control dengue.

The World Health Organisation ranks dengue fever as the most important mosquito-borne viral disease in the world, with more than 50 million cases reported annually.

“It is more natural in the sense that you are using only the mosquito to fight the mosquito,” he said.

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