Brazilian health authorities report that the use of the bacterium, Wolbachia, which has already been used in Rio de Janeiro, will be taken to the cities of Campo Grande, Petrolina and Belo Horizonte.
The announcement of Wolbachia’s final evaluation step in the three municipalities was made by Health Minister Henrique Mandetta today during the opening of the event “Update on Clinical Management of Dengue fever and chikungunya e in the vector control of Aedes aegypti “, in Campo Grande (MS). The event aims to train physicians, nurses, coordinators and supervisors of Vector Control of the 79 municipalities in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul in relation to the management technique, mosquito control and field operation.
Wolbachia are safe, natural bacteria present in up to 60% of insect species, including some mosquitoes. However, Wolbachia is not usually found in the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the primary species responsible for transmitting viruses such as Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
Wolbachia is introduced into male and female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the laboratory and then released into the wild.
Once Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes are released, they breed with wild mosquitoes. Over time, the majority of mosquitoes carry Wolbachia. These mosquitoes have a reduced ability to transmit viruses to people, decreasing the risk of Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever outbreaks.
This initiative does not use any kind of genetic modification.
When launching, in Campo Grande, the health minister stressed that the strategy to combat the Aedes mosquito remains the responsibility of all. “This is a complementary strategy. Government and population must continue to do their part. In the scope of the research, today we are taking an important step.
We had two lines of work, one focused on mosquito control with the use of insecticides, and another on biological control, which is the case with the use of Wolbachia. This last survey went very well at all stages, from the theoretical part to the clinical trial in the laboratory, and the test in small towns. And now, we will test in cities above 1.5 million inhabitants, “said Minister Henrique Mandetta.
According to the minister, the three cities, where the last phase will be worked, will serve as a basis for verifying the effectiveness of the methodology in the Central-West regions, starting from Campo Grande; Northeast, through Petrolina; and Southeast, based on experience in Belo Horizonte. “Soon, we must do in other cities, to reap the rewards of development. This will involve assistance work, with monitoring of the number of cases; of entomologists, to know the prevalence of the mosquito; with community health agents; and by means of traps placed in the field, “explained the minister.
This next phase will last some three years.
Brazil has reported 229,000 dengue fever cases in 2019 year-to-date, including 62 deaths.