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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Australia : Anti-viral bug could stop dengue spread

Article via ABC Science, excerpt :

" Dengue transmission could be suppressed by infecting mosquitoes with natural virus-blocking bacteria, say researchers.

Professor Ary Hoffman of the Bio21 Institute at the University of Melbourne and colleagues, report their research on the Wolbachia bacteria in two papers in today's issue of the journal Nature.

"It's a natural agent that exists within insects to block viruses," says Hoffmann. "We're not genetically modifying the mosquito or anything like that."

Dengue is viral disease that affects about 50 million people a year globally, mainly in tropical cities.

The severity of outbreaks of the disease and its geographic range are on the increase and the mosquitoes that carry the disease are becoming resistant to pesticides used to kill them.

While dengue does not usually kill people, it does make them very sick and for people in developing countries this can have major economic consequences.

Hoffmann and colleagues have been exploring the potential to control dengue using a bacteria called Wolbachia, which occurs naturally in about 30 to 70 per cent of insects"

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