Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), which is caused by the dengue virus and transmitted through the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, infects about 390 million people every year and kills around 25,000 people.
This disease has always been a public health challenge in the tropics.
Also read: 9 Symptoms of Dengue Fever and How to Prevent Its Transmission
Spreads Wolbachia mosquitoes
Seeing that there is no effective approach to reduce the number of cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever, The World Mosquito Program (WMP) Yogyakarta which is run by Prof. dr. Adi Utarini, M.Sc, MPH, Ph.D and colleagues, conducted a research on Wolbachia Applications in Dengue Elimination (AWED).
This study used an arbovirus control approach, using Aedes aegypti mosquitoes which were stably transfected with Wolbachia bacteria.
This will significantly reduce the ability of mosquitoes to transmit dengue fever, Zika, and chikungunya in laboratory experiments.
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Modeling predicts this will translate to local elimination of dengue, in most epidemiological settings.
This study is a parallel, non-blinded two-arm cluster randomized controlled trial conducted in one location in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
The aim was to determine whether the large-scale spread of Wolbachia-infected Ae. aegypti mosquitoes led to a measurable reduction in the incidence of dengue fever in treated versus untreated areas.
The primary endpoint was symptomatic and virologically confirmed dengue virus infection of any severity.
The 26 km2 study area was divided into 24 contiguous clusters, randomly allocated 1:1 to receive Wolbachia spread or no intervention.
Also read: Why Are Dengue Fever Mosquitoes Rampant in the Rainy Season?
Launching The Atlantic, Wolbachia spread very quickly. If a small number of Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes are released into an environment, almost all local insects will be dengue-free within a few months.
It’s as if the research team vaccinated several individuals against a disease, and soon after that the entire population had herd immunity.
We used a new epidemiological study design, a randomized cluster-negative design trial, in which dengue cases and arbovirus-negative controls were sampled simultaneously from among febrile patients presenting to the primary care clinic network, with case or control status classified retrospectively, based on the results of diagnostic laboratory tests.
Also read: Here’s the Body’s Immune System Reaction Against the Dengue Fever Virus
Proven to be effective in suppressing dengue cases
From the results of the study, in August 2020, WMP Yogyakarta said that areas that received Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes experienced a decrease in the number of dengue fever cases.
The incidence of dengue fever is 77 percent lower than in areas without Wolbachia mosquitoes.
This approach has been proven to be effective in reducing cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) by 77 percent and reducing hospitalization cases due to dengue by 86 percent.
Oliver Brady, a dengue expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who was not involved in the study, said the study provides golden evidence that Wolbachia is a very effective intervention against dengue.
“This has the potential to revolutionize mosquito control,” he said.
The findings of the study initiated by Prof. Adi Utarini also brought his name into the list of the 100 most influential people in 2021 according to Time magazine.
Implementation in the community
As previously reported by Kompas.com, the success of the AWED study has led to the technology being ready to be implemented in the community.
On February 16, the launching and soft launching of the program, named Si Wolly Comfortable, was carried out.
This implementation was carried out at 20 health centers spread across 13 Kapanewon, 39 kelurahan, and 588 hamlets in Sleman, Yogyakarta by considering the incidence rate of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever in their respective regions.
To reach all these locations, more than 22,000 buckets have been prepared which will routinely be filled with Wolbachia mosquito eggs every two weeks for a period of six months, from May to November 2021.
Also read: Effectively Reducing DHF Cases, UGM Releases Wolbachia Mosquitoes in Sleman
Dengue fever (DHF) is a disease transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and one of the four dengue viruses.
Usually the symptoms of dengue will appear four to seven days after the initial infection. In most cases, the symptoms are mild and are often mistaken for the flu or another infection.
However, one in 20 cases may develop severe symptoms. Severe dengue can cause shock, internal bleeding, and even death.
If you have had dengue fever before, you are more likely to get severe dengue.
In addition, infants and pregnant women are at higher risk of developing severe dengue.
Also read: 4 types of viruses that cause dengue fever and their characteristics
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