S’gor to try Wolbachia bacteria to stem tide of dengue

21 Mar 2019 / 15:38 H.

    SHAH ALAM: Selangor government will use a new approach in its war against dengue and the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (Yellow fever mosquito).

    Selangor Health, Welfare, Women Empowerment and Family executive councillor Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud said the state would release Aedes eggs infected with the Wolbachia bacteria that could stop the dengue virus from replicating.

    “Together with the Health Ministry we are trying to control it using the Wolbachia bacterium,” she said the Selangor State Assembly today.

    “This bacterium is common among insects but it does not infect the Aedes aegypti. However, we have successfully infected Aedes mosquito eggs with Wolbachia and we will release the infected eggs into the dengue hotspots.

    “Once these eggs hatched and they mate with other Aedes in the wild it will infect the future generations. New eggs laid by infected female Aedes mosquito will have a 100% infected rate for the Wolbachia bacterium.”

    Siti said Malaysia is the 10th country to pioneer the Wolbachia research and would be the second country after Australia to release Aedes eggs infected with Wolbachia to battle the growing epidemic.

    Wolbachia is the latest in the state’s arsenal against dengue. Other methods such as awareness programmes, fogging and gotong-royong among others will continue.

    Hulu Bernam assemblyman Datuk Rosni Sohar then pointed out that Selangor had the highest dengue infections in the country with 18,2015 cases reported with 17 deaths this year.

    “We are not seeing a decrease but an increase,” Rosni said. “It is only the first quarter for this year but we have reported 18,205 cases this year with 17 deaths.

    “What sort of enforcement is the state doing regarding housing areas, abandoned buildings and construction areas that breed Aedes mosquitoes?”

    Siti responded by saying the 200% spike is a national and regional trend and explained that the Aedes mosquito breeds in highly populated areas such as markets, night markets, places of worship, bus stations and illegal farms.

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