Scientists claim that a “groundbreaking” study that manipulates the mosquitos that spread the dengue virus has reduced cases by 77%.
They utilized mosquitos infected with “miraculous” bacteria that limit the insect’s capacity to transmit dengue.
The study, which took place in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, is being expanded in the hope of eradicating the virus.
According to the World Mosquito Programme team, it could be a cure for a virus that has spread over the world.
Few people had heard of dengue 50 years ago, but it has been a persistent slow-burning pandemic, with cases rising.
Only nine nations had major dengue outbreaks in 1970. Now, up to 400 million people are infected each year.
Dengue fever is often known as “break-bone fever” because it produces extreme pain in muscles and bones and can overwhelm hospitals in large outbreaks.
The mosquitos utilized in the study were infected with Wolbachia bacteria. Dr. Katie Anders, one of the researchers, describes them as “naturally miraculous.”
Wolbachia does not harm the mosquito, but it does collect in the exact parts of its body where the dengue virus needs to enter.
Because the bacteria compete for resources and make it far more difficult for the dengue virus to reproduce, the mosquito is less likely to induce an infection the next time it bites.
Five million mosquito eggs infected with Wolbachia were used in the study. Every two weeks, eggs were placed in buckets of water across the city, and the process of spreading a mosquito population took nine months.
Yogyakarta was divided into 24 zones, with mosquitoes released in only half of them.
When the insects were released, there was a 77 percent reduction in cases and an 86 percent drop in those needing hospital care, according to the findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“It’s very exciting, it’s better than we could have hoped for, to be honest,” Dr. Anders told the media.