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What are ‘good’ mosquitos?

Sep 29, 2014

Scientists in Brazil have released thousands of mosquitos that can fight disease instead of spreading it.

Dengue fever is a dangerous disease that occurs in hot climates. It is caused by a virus in the blood of mosquitos, which then spread it to humans when they bite them. Although the disease is treatable, there had been no effective vaccine or way to prevent dengue fever until scientists discovered that a bacterium called Wolbachia stops the virus multiplying in a mosquito’s body. It also stops mosquitos that have dengue fever from breeding, and cannot be transmitted to humans.

This means that if enough mosquitos carrying Wolbachia start breeding, dengue fever should eventually die out, which is why scientists in Brazil have started releasing thousands of ‘good’ mosquitos they have infected with Wolbachia. A similar project has been used to fight dengue fever in Australia, although its success has come at a price – for the scientists at least – since to test their theory some of the researchers agreed to let mosquitos bite them for five years.

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