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Manipulated mosquitoes are used in Colombia to curb the spread of dengue fever
Colombia is one of the main distribution areas of dangerous dengue fever, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. Scientists are now using an unusual means to stop the disease: due to the manipulation of yellow fever mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti), the dengue virus can no longer nest in the animals, so that transmission to humans is impossible. The project of the scientists is supervised by the University of Antioquia and is part of an ongoing program to eradicate dengue fever in other regions.
Bacteria prevents the development of the dengue virus in the mosquitoes
The researchers infect the mosquitoes with the Wolbachia bacterium, which prevents the dengue virus from developing in the mosquito body. This also prevents the transmission of the virus to humans, as the scientists of the program for research and control of tropical diseases (Pecet) explain.
The modified mosquitoes are then gradually released in París in northeast Colombia. The same number of male and female mosquitoes are brought there every week. In the first step, the animals should settle in París. If the project goes according to plan, the bacterium, which is not transferable to humans, is passed on from mosquito generation to mosquito generation, so that a population develops that no longer transmits dengue fever. This is expected to significantly reduce the number of dengue infections in the relevant neighborhoods.
Nearly 40,000 cases of dengue in Colombia
Since the beginning of the year, health authorities have registered almost 40,000 cases of dengue fever. The disease is common in Latin America, Central Africa, India, Southeast Asia, parts of the Pacific, and the southern United States.
Dengue fever usually manifests itself with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills as well as headache, muscle and body aches. A rash (rash) may also occur. The infectious disease is usually mild, but there are also regular severe courses, in which the so-called hemorrhagic dengue fever develops, which is manifested by an acute shock syndrome with hemorrhage. The permeability of the blood vessel walls increases, causing uncontrolled bleeding. As a result, the bloodstream can collapse and the patient fall into a coma.
There is no vaccination against dengue fever and no causal therapy. Medicines can only alleviate individual symptoms. (ag)