Brazilian children help eliminate dengue fever

Dengue infects almost 400 million people a year worldwide and kills tens of thousands. Brazil is the worst affected country in the world and its densely populated favelas are particularly vulnerable to infectious disease.

Children are helping combat dengue fever in Brazil’s favelas by breeding Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which spread the disease. They are infected with Wolbachia bacteria which cripples their ability to transmit blood-borne viruses like dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever. The bacteria spreads through the release of captive mosquitos with wild populations. 

The initiative was started by the World Mosquito Program (WMP) which has seen great success through community engagement. Educators in schools in particular have been trained to teach students how Wolbachia can be used to combat mosquito-borne disease. This education continues at home, children from Rio’s Complexo da Maré of 130 000 occupants, are rearing the Wolbachia infected bugs in empty margarine tubs.

The success of the WMP initiative has proved to be a safe, cost effective and self-sustaining method to protect communities. The same method could be implemented and replicated in other places that battle with mosquito diseases like many countries in Africa. 


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Author: Sylvia Jacobs

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