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Latest Dengue Update: Bacteria Strain That Stops Dengue Transmission In Mosquitoes Dies In Hot Environment

Update Date: Jan 08, 2017 10:09 PM EST
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Clinical trials have begun for the experimental Zika vaccine which can be transmitted by mosquitoes and also through sexual intercourse. (Photo : Jack Leonard/New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board/Getty Images)

The latest dengue update regarding the development of a bacteria strain that stops transmission of dengue in mosquitoes has hit a snag. The bacteria strain that has the ability to stop that transfer of dengue in mosquitoes dies in hot conditions.

According to the researchers from the University of Melbourne, the promising bacteria strain failed to survive in warm environments. However, the failure has helped the researchers identify other possible bacteria strain that could not only survive high temperatures, but also be temperature-resistant.

The study conducted by Ph.D. student Perran Ross was published in PLOS Pathogens, found out that the wMel Wolbachia strain could not survive as the temperature rose. However, the other strains of the Wolbachia bacteria were able to survive higher temperatures and some are even temperature-resistant.

In an on-going research, the bacteria strain, Wolbachia, discovered by scientists has the ability to reduce or completely stop the ability of mosquitoes to transmit dengue. Not only is the Wolbachia effective on dengue-carrying mosquitoes but also those mosquitoes carrying Zika and Chikungunya. Scientists see the Wolbachia as an effective and green alternative to pesticides.

Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes have successfully replaced the natural population of mosquitoes in parts of Cairns in Australia. However, sometimes the Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes are slow to invade the mosquito population or fail completely. Successful release strategies in places like Cairns, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur are being in development.

However, the failure of Wolbachia to survive in high temperatures has worried the researchers. "With climate change projections of increasing temperatures, we may see mosquitoes with dengue migrating from Queensland further down to southern Australia, particularly if another invasive species that transmits diseases enters mainland Australia. Also, we expect that higher temperatures will become more common", says Professor Hoffman, lead researcher on the development of Wolbachia-infested mosquitoes.

According to The Melbourne Newsroom, Mr. Perran Ross also echoes Professor Hoffman's sentiment saying that further research on possible Wolbachia strains should be looked into especially now as hotter climates have become the norm. This research is especially important as many deaths have occurred due to dengue, Zika, and chikungunya. In Australia alone, dengue kills up to 20,000 people, mostly children, in a year.

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