Disease spread by mosquitos like dengue, malaria makes a lot of people sick and even die all over the world every year. New research at the World Mosquito Program is taking place where the mosquitos are infected with Wolbachia. This bacteria prevents the mosquito from getting dengue.
What is Wolbachia?
It is an extremely common bacteria that is found naturally on various insects and also found in fruit flies, butterflies, moths but it is safe for humans and our nature. They stay inside the insect’s cells and pass from one generation to the other.
Aedes aegypti mosquito is the group of mosquito that transmits most of the diseases among us. It originated in Africa but has now spread all over the world. The number of people affected by these diseases is increasing rapidly with time. The increasing population, climatic change, and international travel have also played a big role in spreading it.
Scott O’Neill the director of the Institute of Vector-Borne Disease at Monash University and the founder of the World Mosquito Program was the one who first began manipulating the mosquitos in 1990. He has shown that the Wolbachia reduces transmission of dengue.
How does the process work?
It is observed that when the Aedes aegypti mosquito carries Wolbachia, the bacteria fight with diseases like dengue, yellow fever, malaria, and various other diseases caused by mosquitos. Wolbachia makes it difficult for viruses to reproduce inside the mosquito. And so the mosquitos cannot spread the virus anymore from person to person.
This defines that when Aedes aegypti mosquito carries Wolbachia with them the spread of the diseases by mosquitos decreases.
World Mosquito Program breeds Wolbachia carrying mosquitos and then release them into the areas which are affected by mosquito diseases mainly.
It was found that Wolbachia is safe for the people, animals, and nature too. Well, World Mosquito Program never releases any Wolbachia mosquitos without community support.
Unlike other processes to prevent mosquito diseases, the Wolbachia method is a natural process and can continue in a healthy state without any outside help.
It is still not clear how Wolbachia prevents the transmission of the virus although both the pathogens were present in the same mosquito. It is said that both of them might be fighting for the same resource. The highest number of dengue infected people is now in Singapore an island city in Malaysia. It is having more than 26000 cases as reported by Reuters.
Scientists in the local are releasing 6 Wolbachia mosquitos in the most high-risk areas.
The world mosquito program plans to release Wolbachia mosquitos in most of the areas covering nearly 75 million people at risk of dengue in the next five years. It is also stated that the presence of the Wolbachia bacteria saves us from various other viruses such as chikungunya and zika.