Earlier this week, the Thailand Bureau of Epidemiology updated the dengue fever situation in the kingdom and it shows that the number of dengue cases has reached 19029, with every one of the 77 provinces affected.

Image/ ArtsyBee
Image/ ArtsyBee

Of this total, 16 fatalities have been reported.

Maehongsorn, the remote, mountainous province in northern Thailand, bordering Myanmar is now the province with the highest morbidity rate, surpassing Bangkok, Rayong, Trad and Phuket rounding out the top five.

In an attempt to control the mosquito vector of this virus and to kick off Asean Dengue Day, researchers from Mahidol University’s Centre of Excellence for Vectors and Vector-Borne Diseases released sterilized mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) in Chachoengsao in the world’s first open-environment trial of the method Wednesday, Thailand media reports.

“The trial period is three months long and we will release 100 sterilized male mosquitoes per house in Ban Nongsatit Village in Chachoengsao’s Plangyao district once a week. Then we will monitor the change in mosquito population,”Dr Pattamaporn Kittayapong, leading researcher at the centre explained.

“The sterilized male mosquitoes that we released will mate with female mosquitoes, which are the vector for the diseases. After that, the females’ eggs will be unfertilized so they cannot reproduce. The result will be the mosquito population will decline without any impact on other mosquito species or the environment.”

“This is the safest way to control the mosquito population and reduce the disease infection. There is no genetic modification at all during the process and the released mosquitoes will also die within three weeks without reproducing the new strain of mosquito,” she said.

If successful, this experiment could could lead to this mosquito control method to be used in dengue “hotspots” elsewhere.