HANOI — Vietnam will start releasing next month mosquitoes laced with Wolbachia — natural bacteria present in many insects — which is capable of preventing Aedes aegypti mosquitoes from becoming infected with dengue virus, meaning the mosquitoes cannot transmit the virus to humans.
Wolbachia-laced mosquitoes will be released in Vinh Luong commune, Nha Trang city, central Khanh Hoa province in 12-18 weeks starting in March, according to Vietnam’s Health Ministry on Monday.
Earlier, a research group from Vietnam’s National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and Australian scientists bred Aedes aegypti mosquitoes laced with Wolbachia and then released them on a trial basis on Tri Nguyen island in Khanh Hoa in 2013 and 2014.
Since 2014, no dengue fever outbreaks have been detected on the island, while Nha Trang and Khanh Hoa have reported outbreaks of the disease.
When male and female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with Wolbachia are released over a number of weeks, they then breed with the wild mosquito population, passing the bacteria from generation to generation.
Over time, the percentage of mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia grows until it remains high without the need for further releases. Mosquitoes with Wolbachia are less able to transmit diseases to people, so the risk of outbreaks in these areas is reduced.
Vietnam recorded 175,800 dengue fever patients, including 38 fatalities, and 39 Zika sufferers last year, said the ministry’s Preventive Medicine Department. Zika is a virus spread to humans by Aedes mosquitoes — the same mosquitoes that spread dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Xinhua-northboundasia.com