Bacteria-infected mosquitoes against dengue

The project will start in April. Similar projects in other parts of the world have yielded excellent results. Harmless to humans, Wolbachia reduces virus transmission.


Vientiane (AsiaNews) – Between April and September, the Laotian government will release mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia bacteria in two districts of the capital, Vientiane, to prevent the spread of viruses that cause dengue and other diseases.

The head of the project, Phoutmany Thammavong, made the announcement yesterday, explaining that the bacteria reduce virus transmission for diseases like malaria, Zika and Yellow Fever.

If a person is bitten by a virus-carrying mosquito, the presence of Wolbachia will reduce the chances of contagion.

The plan calls for the initial release of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes in 32 locations in the districts of Saysettha and Chanthabouly, which are highly infested with mosquitoes, over 20 weeks. During this period, a technical team will monitor results.

According to government estimates, about 86,000 people could avoid getting infected with dengue.

People are urged to continue protecting themselves from mosquito bites, but avoid destroying the containers with Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes, so that they can reproduce with normal mosquitoes and spread the bacteria, which is harmless to people and animals.

Phoutmany Thammavong warned, however, that different types of mosquitoes will not be distinguishable to the naked eye.

Wolbachia, by targeting virus vectors, has already proven effective in eradicating dengue in Australia and parts of Brazil. An experiment conducted in 2021 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, reduced dengue virus transmission by 77 per cent.