Bacteria can help combat spread of dengue

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London, Jan 2 (ANI): Infecting dengue virus-carrying mosquitoes with bacteria that halves the insects' lifespan can significantly help limit the spread of the fever that effects millions around the world, say researchers.

Conventional methods for controlling the spread of disease caused by Aedes aegytpi mosquitoes, such as using bed nets and draining wetlands, often prove ineffective as they bite during the day and flourish in urban areas.

Now, researchers from University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia have developed a novel way to kill the mosquitoes before the dengue virus becomes old enough to infect people.

They found that infecting the mosquitoes with a strain of the Wolbachia pipientis bacterium reduced their lifespan by half.

The Aedes aegytpi mosquito is not naturally vulnerable to the bacteria, so for the study, researchers grew the bacteria in a culture with the mosquito cells.

Over three years, some of the bacteria adapted so that they could successfully infect two female mosquitoes.

The researchers found that the lifespan of the infected mosquitoes was around 30 days, almost half the expected 60-day survival rate of laboratory-bred mosquitoes.

"We were able to show that when mosquitoes carry these bacteria, their adult lifespan is roughly halved," Nature quoted Scott O'Neill, a geneticist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia as saying.

The researchers are now conducting further studies with caged mosquitoes to see if they get similar results outside the lab.

As dengue viruses mature at different rates, it could be difficult to predict the absolute age at which the mosquitoes need to be killed.

However, according to O'Neill, if the adapted Wolbachia also halve the average age of mosquitoes in the wild, transmission of the virus could be reduced to nearly zero.

The findings are published in Science1.(ANI)

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