Sunday, 28 September 2014

You give me fever!

We all know that mosquitoes are rather annoying and have a habit of ruining our fun when on holiday. However, although they are the most annoying of all insects (in my opinion), they are not just holiday ruiners,; they can also act as vectors for some terrible diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Both of these illnesses are a major problem in the developing world and also within the developed world as well.

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; the epicenter of dengue fever, researchers have released thousands of dengue fever carrying mosquitoes (Aedes) infected with the  Wolbachia bacterium. This bacterium suppresses dengue fever within the mosquito and consequently the fever cannot be transmitted to humans.

In more detail, it is the bacterium Wolbachia which prevents the dengue fever virus from replicating within the mosquito and it also has another effect on the reproductive system of the mosquito. Via wolbachia's effects, it will mean that mosquitoes carrying dengue fever will become fewer and so the levels of the disease will also decrease proportionally.

This method has already been trialed in Australia and within 10 weeks of release the levels of Aedes mosquitoes with Wolbachia became predominant, and this is the plan which the researchers hope to replicate in Rio.

This study is a great example, of how modifying an organism can benefit the human population, whilst not having an impact upon the natural flora and fauna of the environment.

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