Dengue fever breakthrough

2011-08-25 18:15
Researchers have made a breakthrough to limit the spread of dengue fever. (AP)

Researchers have made a breakthrough to limit the spread of dengue fever. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - Researchers in Australia have found a possible way of blocking mosquitoes from infecting humans with dengue fever.

The new technique consists of infecting the mosquito carrier with bacteria that seem to stop the dengue virus from migrating to the parasite's saliva glands. This prevents it from passing it to humans.

A peculiarity of dengue fever, which affects 100 million people each year, is that the Aedes aegypti mosquito which carries it is not affected by the virus, remaining infected, and infectious, for life.

But the team led by Scott O'Neill, biology professor at Melbourne's Monash University, found that mosquitoes infected with a particular strain of Wolbachia, a bacterium commonly found in fruit flies, seems to stop the dengue virus being absorbed by the insect's gut.

"And this bacteria, we've found that when it's in the mosquito, it prevents the mosquito from being able to grow the dengue virus in its body," O'Neill told national broadcaster ABC.

"And if it can't grow it, then it can't transmit it between people."


The recent breakthrough was when the team released around 300 000 Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes in north-eastern Australia, and found that they passed the bacteria on to wild mosquitoes, according to a report published on Thursday in science magazine Nature.

"What we found is that over time all of the mosquitoes in those... localities ended up carrying this bacteria," O'Neill said.

Trials with previous strains of Wolbachia had shortened the insects' life span considerably, meaning that they had no chance to pass their dengue-resistant bacteria to other mosquitoes.

The research team was now keen to try out the new programme in Vietnam, Brazil and Indonesia, where dengue is endemic and deaths from the fever are in the tens of thousands.

There is no approved vaccine for the dengue virus and no effective treatments for the disease. So far, efforts have focused on stopping mosquitoes biting people and ridding environs of the stagnant pools of water where they breed.

O'Neill said it was not "fully understood" how the Wolbachia bacteria blocks the dengue virus, but that it could be because they compete for resources in the mosquito's metabolism.

The technique could be tried against the malaria virus as well, he said.
Read more on:    health

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!

Nothing, and we mean nothing, will keep goalkeeper Scott Stirling from stopping the ball!

Hottie of the day: Jesselyn
This invention makes farts smell like chocolate!
11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


Grandiose ideas and plans can trip you up today. Keep things in context and take one step at a more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.