Lab Grown Mosquitoes Reduce Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever is a serious viral infection transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes that become infected by biting a carrier and then bite a non-infected individual. There are four distinct Dengue virus types so humans can contract the disease four times. The mosquito that transmits Dengue can also transmit the Zika virus and Chikengunya virus.

Dengue has been a disease primarily seen in the Caribbean islands, Central America, South America and Asia. With climate change and migration the disease is moving northward and cases are seen routinely now in Southern Florida and Texas.  Most cases are self-limiting and considered non-life threatening with symptoms of headache, eye pain, severe bone pain, muscle and joint pain, rash and sometimes nausea and vomiting. Treatment is supportive with hydration and pain relief

Individuals who survived an initial Dengue infection and then are re-infected are more likely to develop the severe form of the disease. When their initial fever resolves they develop severe abdominal pain, vomiting and bleeding from the nose or gums. This is a life threatening illness and requires immediate emergency medical attention.

At the recent meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, investigators discussed the success of the release of genetically modified Aedes mosquitoes carrying the Wolbachia bacterium in reducing Dengue infections. This bacterium prevents the transmission of the Dengue virus from mosquito to humans. These modified mosquitoes have been bred and released in Brazil, Indonesia and Australia with a marked reduction in Dengue infections in humans.

Currently a Dengue Fever preventive vaccine is in the experimental phase as well. With climate change and population growth, the CDC expects up to 60% of the world’s population to be at risk from Dengue in the future.