Infection cuts mosquitoes’ lives short

By Pauline Askin

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Infecting mosquitoes with a common bacteria can cut their lives short and reduce the likelihood they will transmit dengue and other diseases, Australian researchers reported on Friday.

They genetically engineered bacteria known as Wolbachia so they would infect the Aedes aegypti mosquito species that carry the dengue virus, and found infected mosquitoes lived half as long as uninfected mosquitoes.

This could reduce the chances they will transmit the virus to people, as the virus takes about two weeks to mature and become infectious inside a mosquito’s body, they report in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

“Dengue virus and the disease it causes is only transmitted to humans by the older female Aedes aegypti mosquito,” said Scott O’Neill, head of University of Queensland’s School of Biological Science.

“If we can introduced this into populations it should move the management of dengue fever from an outbreak management paradigm to a prevention paradigm,” O’Neill said in a telephone interview.

Wolbachia bacteria, which occur naturally in fruit flies, allowed the mosquito to live long enough to reproduce and spread to its young, but not to mature to the stage when it is capable of transmitting dengue.

There is no vaccine or cure for dengue fever, which is a painful and debilitating disease also known as breakbone fever. When it takes on a hemorrhagic form it can kill, and dengue kills 22,000 people a year.

“Dengue around the world is getting worse now. We are seeing more and more activity around the world including Australia,” said O’Neill.

His team hopes to infect a caged population of mosquitoes in Australia’s tropical Queensland state. More than 50 cases of dengue have been confirmed in northern Queensland since November.

“If that proves successful we hope to deploy this new dengue control measure in other parts of Australia, as well as Thailand and Vietnam,” O’Neill said.

“Ultimately we would like to see if it could be applied to other diseases transmission systems like malaria, which we are currently working on as well,” he said.

The researchers now need to show that Wolbachia will spread naturally among mosquitoes the way they do among fruit flies, Andrew Read and Matthew Thomas of Pennsylvania State University said in a commentary.

And then it is possible that dengue viruses would evolve the ability to multiply more quickly inside a mosquito’s body, they noted.

(Reporting by Pauline Askin; editing by Maggie Fox and Mohammad Zargham)


Related Posts:

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Only 65 people died from dengue fever in Cambodia in 2008, down from 407 last year thanks to preventive measures taken by the government and international agencies, a Health Ministry official said on Monday. Dengue, which is transmitted by mosquitoes and causes fever, headaches and agonizing muscle and joint pains, infected 9,300

Full Post: Dengue kills just 65 in Cambodia in 2008

By Susan Heavey WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Data show Novartis AG’s combination malaria drug Coartem appears to work and causes few serious side effects, U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulatory staff said in documents released on Monday. “The majority of AEs (adverse events) were of mild or moderate intensity. Deaths … and SAEs (serious adverse events) … were

Full Post: Novartis malaria drug safe, effective: FDA

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An experimental malaria vaccine is the most promising yet, protecting up to 65 percent of infants from infection in two studies in Africa, researchers reported on Monday. Separate tests in Kenya and Tanzania showed GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine called RTS,S could protect babies and toddlers from infection with malaria

Full Post: Glaxo malaria vaccine protects babies, children

By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - An experimental drug cured guinea pigs infected with a fatal hemorrhagic fever virus, raising hope for its use in a broad range of viral diseases including influenza, hepatitis C, HIV, Ebola and others, U.S. researchers said on Sunday. “This is a whole new strategy for making antiviral drugs,” said Dr. Philip

Full Post: Inside-out cells offer target for antiviral drugs

Traveller’s diarrhoea and antibiotics, the relation and the issue, both are very controversial. There are several international travellers that support the idea of taking some antibiotics like Cipro or others to spare themselves from traveller’s diarrhoea. But, is antibiotic an apt option to be considered for traveller’s diarrhoea? Is there any risk associated with the

Full Post: Traveller’s Diarrhoea and Antibiotics

Site Navigation

Most Read