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World Mosquito Program's Wolbachia Project Shields Millions from Dengue

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Geeta Pillai
New Update
World Mosquito Program's Wolbachia Project Shields Millions from Dengue

Scott O'Neill, CEO of the World Mosquito Program (WMP), made a ground-breaking announcement in a virtual meeting with Commission IX of the Indonesian House of Representatives on November 28, 2023. WMP's innovative approach of using Wolbachia-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes has been scientifically validated to protect an impressive 11.2 million people across 13 nations from dengue fever.

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WMP's Global Mission

WMP, a non-profit initiative under the auspices of Monash University, Australia, is on a mission to protect global populations from mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, Zika, and yellow fever. The initiative uses a specific strain of bacteria called Wolbachia to infect Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are responsible for transmitting these diseases. The Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes inhibit the replication of the dengue virus, rendering it harmless to humans when transmitted.

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Trials and Triumphs

Research on Wolbachia mosquitoes began in Townsville, Australia (2011-2017), covering 300 square kilometers and a population of 325,000. The city experienced complete eradication of dengue transmission following the release of the Wolbachia mosquitoes. Similar results were reported in five Brazilian cities, leading to a significant decrease in dengue cases. Buoyed by the success, Brazil has now established a Mosquito Mass Production Facility (MMPF) capable of producing 100 million mosquitoes per week, with the aim of expanding the program nationwide.

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WMP's Global Impact

In Colombia, trials conducted in four cities (2015-2022) resulted in a 95-97% reduction in dengue cases after the introduction of Wolbachia mosquitoes in 2017. New Caledonia also witnessed the elimination of dengue, protecting 150,000 residents over a span of 144 square kilometers from 2019 to 2023. WMP's successful trials have also been reported in Colombo, Sri Lanka, highlighting the global significance and success of the initiative.

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