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This bacteria turns mosquitoes against to deadly diseases

This bacteria turns mosquitoes against to deadly diseases

Mosquitoes are considered as one of the deadliest incest to human, what if they are not just pests but heroes in the fight against deadly diseases? However, then, you could live free from the fear of mosquito-borne illnesses.

A team of scientists from the World Mosquito Programme found a method to transform mosquitoes by leveraging a bacteria called Wolbachia.

Each year, around 247 million people contract malaria, and many more suffer from diseases like dengue and Zika. To combat these illnesses, scientists at the WMP (World Mosquito Program) have tested this method in 14 countries with impressive results.

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The appearance of Wolbachia bacteria (World Mosquito Program)

How Wolbachia defeats viruses in mosquito bodies

While scientists are turning mosquitoes into fighting against diseases, the key to this solution is a bacteria called Wolbachia. This bacteria stops viruses from growing inside mosquitoes, which prevents the mosquitoes from spreading diseases.

Wolbachia has been known in mosquito biology for about 100 years, but it recently gained a lot of attention. Scientists found that if mosquitoes carry Wolbachia, viruses like yellow fever and dengue can’t grow well inside them.

Because when Wolbachia is in mosquito cells, they can’t properly proliferate and ultimately can’t spread diseases to humans.

This bacteria turns mosquitoes against to deadly diseases
Wolbachia and Dengue cells are in mosquitos (Youtube – ASapSCIE)
This bacteria turns mosquitoes against to deadly diseases 1
Dengue viruses are disappeared by Wolbachia. (AsapSCIE)

This discovery was surprising, but researchers realized that Wolbachia competes with the viruses, making it hard for them to survive and spread.

Real-world applications of Wolbachia

Scientists have put this discovery to the test in real-world settings. They release Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes into the wild. These mosquitoes then spread Wolbachia to other mosquitoes.

If an infected male mates with a noninfected female, her eggs won’t hatch. But if the female has Wolbachia, her eggs will hatch, and the baby mosquitoes will also carry the bacteria.

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How female mosquitos passed Wolbachia to offspring. (blogs.unimelb.edu.au)

This method has been tested in 14 countries with impressive results. In Indonesia, dengue cases dropped by 77.1%. In Colombia, the Abura Valley saw a 95-97% reduction in dengue fever, the lowest rate in 20 years.

While other parts of the Americas faced record-high dengue cases, this region saw record lows thanks to the Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes.

The Future of Mosquito Control

In Brazil, they are building a facility to produce 100 million Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes each week. These mosquitoes will be released in multiple Brazilian cities to fight diseases like dengue and Zika.

Some people might wonder if Wolbachia poses a risk to humans. The answer is no. About 50% of all insects naturally carry Wolbachia, and the common house mosquito, which often bites people, already has it. 

There’s no link between Wolbachia and any negative outcomes for humans. The World Health Organization (WHO) is evaluating this technology for use in other countries. 

Scientists see it as a supplementary measure, not a replacement for vaccines. But it could save millions of people from getting sick.


Featured image credit: Entomology today / Wikipedia


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