Sri Lanka to begin injecting Wolbachia into dengue mosquitoes

Source: Xinhua| 2020-02-24 18:40:38|Editor: zyl
Video PlayerClose

COLOMBO, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka's National Dengue Control Unit will next week begin its pilot project of injecting Wolbachia bacteria into the "aedes aegypti" mosquitoes, the main carriers of the dengue virus, in order to minimize the virus from spreading in the island country, local media reports said here Monday.

Director of the National Dengue Control Unit Dr. Anura Jayasekera was quoted in the reports as saying that the project will begin from Dematagoda and Nugegoda in capital Colombo on March 2, where teams will inject the bacteria in the mosquitoes after identifying its breeding places.

Wolbachia is a naturally occurring bacterium, which can stop mosquitoes from transmitting an infection to humans, thereby curbing the spread of the dengue virus.

Dr. Jayasekera said Wolbachia is found in up to 60 percent of insects, but not usually in the aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the primary vector of dengue.

"This is an advantageous prevention method because it does not require genetic modification, is not toxic and is self-sustaining, making it cost-effective as well," Dr. Jayasekera said.

"Cases of dengue infection have declined significantly and drastically in the 13 countries including Australia, Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam where lab-grown mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia were released," he added.

He further said that in addition to this pilot project, the National Dengue Control Unit is hoping to launch several similar programs this year to reduce the dengue virus.

"We have compiled a special strategic plan to address this issue considering the increasing trend of dengue cases during the past 10 years," he added.

Sri Lanka's Health Ministry last week said that 10,607 dengue cases were recorded from across the country in January, an increase of 90 percent compared to the same period last year.

In 2019, over 99,000 people were affected by the mosquito-borne virus in Sri Lanka, with the National Dengue Control Unit launching several programs to eradicate mosquito's breeding grounds in several districts of the island country.

Last year, 90 deaths were reported.