Dengue still counts as the most rapidly spreading mosquito disease in the world. A Global Burden of Disease report shows that it garners more than 50 million cases annually.
The Philippines remains at most risk from dengue across 12 countries in Southeast Asia with more than 59,000 cases in 2020.
Monash University’s World Mosquito Program (WMP) successfully slashed dengue incidence in Yogyakarta, Indonesia by 77 percent and dengue hospitalizations by 86 percent because of the bacteria, Wolbachia.
The natural bacteria was inserted into the local Aedes Aegypti mosquito population in Yogyakarta. Three years after mosquito releases, Wolbachia remains at a very high level reducing the incidence of dengue amongst three to 45-year-olds in the city.
Since WMP’s trials, Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes were released to neighboring districts to cover 2.5 million people.
According to WMP program director Prof. Scott O’Neill, the method is not only effective in reducing dengue cases, but is also safe and sustainable.
Monash University’s co-principal investigator likewise believes that the Wolbachia method is an “efficacious new product class for dengue control” that can address high-risk countries.
WMP aims to carry out the promising method to the rest of the world by partnering with national and local governments and other sectors.
Currently, the program facilitates Wolbachia-infected mosquito releases in 11 countries in Asia, Australia, Latin America and the Pacific covering 6.8 million people.