Bacteria capable of wiping out disease-carrying mosquitoes: Australian study

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CANBERRA, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) — A landmark Australian trial has found that a bacteria can be used to wipe out mosquitoes carrying dengue.

In a study published on Tuesday, a team including researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) found that bacteria can successfully sterilize the disease-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Over the course of 20 weeks in 2018, researchers released 3 million male mosquitoes that had been sterilized with the Wolbachia bacteria into three Queensland trial sites.

Female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that mate with sterilized males lay eggs that fail to hatch.

Within 12 months the CSIRO found that mosquito populations in the trial sites dropped by between 80 and 97 percent.

The Aedes aegypti is responsible for the spread of dengue fever, yellow fever, Zika and other viruses. It is found in the tropical areas of more than 120 countries and infects millions of people with viruses every year.

Researchers said suppressing its numbers was unlikely to have any major negative ecological effects.

“Over 40 percent of humans suffer from mosquito-spread diseases, so it’s an opportunity for Australia to develop environmentally-friendly mosquito control tools to tackle current and future mosquito incursions,” Larry Marshall, chief executive of the CSIRO, said in a media release.

The trial was an international collaboration between the CSIRO, the University of Queensland, Verily Life Sciences, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and James Cook University.

The technique can also be used to remove the virus-transmitting Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, that has now established at Australia’s doorstep in the Torres Strait Islands, according to the CSIRO.