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Genetically-engineered mosquitoes released in 5 regions in Indonesia to curb dengue fever

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Jakarta, IO – Wolbachia, an engineered mosquito bred by US billionaire Bill Gates, has begun to be released in Indonesia.

Mosquito release trials were carried out as an effort to prevent the spread of dengue fever in five regions of Indonesia, namely Semarang, West Jakarta, Bandung, Kupang and Bontang, per CNBC Indonesia, Tue (22/11).

This project is stipulate in the Health Minister Decree 1341. According to the Indonesian Health Ministry’s (Kemenkes) website, Wolbachia research was carried out by the World Mosquito Program (WMP), supported by the philanthropic institution Tahija Foundation. The research has been applied in Yogyakarta since 2011.

Before being released to these cities, Yogyakarta and Bantul served as the trial locations in 2022. Head of the Yogyakarta City Health Agency Emma Rahmi Aryani said that the method can reduce dengue fever cases by up to 77 percent and reduce hospital admissions by 86 percent.

“The number of cases in Yogyakarta City from January to May 2023 compared to the maximum and minimum pattern in the previous seven years (2015-22) is below the minimum line,” said Emma.

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Other than Indonesia, several countries are also taking part in Wolbachia trials, including Brazil, Australia, Vietnam, Vanuatu, Mexico and Sri Lanka.
Wolbachia is said to be able to paralyze the dengue virus in the mosquito that causes dengue fever, Aedes aegypti, because male Wolbachia mosquitoes are designed to mate with female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. So the dengue virus in female mosquitoes will be blocked and cannot be transmitted.

Meanwhile, when a female Wolbachia mates with an ordinary male mosquito, the eggs produced contain Wolbachia. In this way, it is hoped that the engineered mosquitoes can no longer transmit disease to human. (un)

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