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Injecting Mosquitoes With Bacterium Shows Potential For Dengue Elimination, Scientists Report

Injecting mosquitoes with the Wolbachia bacterium “can block them from transmitting the dengue virus and help control the spread of a disease that kills 20,000 annually in more than 100 countries,” a team led by Scott O’Neill, a geneticist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, reports in two papers published in Nature on Thursday, Reuters reports.  The “researchers in Australia showed how female mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria passed the bug easily to their offspring, making them all dengue-free,” according to the news agency (Lyn, 8/24). 

“There is no vaccine available [for dengue fever], and patients suffering the intense joint and muscle pain that mark a dengue infection have no treatment options other than painkillers,” the Washington Post writes (Vastag, 8/24). “Unlike for malaria, bed nets are not effective in combating dengue as” the mosquito that transmits the disease “is active during the day. And concerns about rising resistance to insecticides has spurred the search for alternatives,” Nature notes (Gilbert, 8/24).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.