Dengue still at near-endemic levels

DENGUE fever remains a public health hazard in north Queensland, despite the success of a project aimed at eradication, says a medical entomologist.

Professor Scott Ritchie, from James Cook University in Cairns, was commenting on two studies published in Nature into the potential of a dengue ‘vaccine’ for Aedes aegypti  mosquitoes. They found that infecting mosquitoes with strains of the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis protects them from dengue virus.

Some 300,000 of these dengue-resistant mosquitoes were released into the Yorkeys Knob and Gordonvale regions, near Cairns, in January this year. 

Within months, they had replaced 80-100% of the wild, non-resistant mosquitoes that transmit the virus.

However, researchers are still unclear as to whether the approach will translate into fewer clinical cases presenting.

“GPs still need to be on their toes looking for dengue cases,” said Professor Ritchie

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