Thursday, October 30, 2014

Combatting Viruses with Bacteria

Dengue fever has rampantly spread throughout the glove, with now more than 2.5 billion people at risk and an estimated over 400 million infected. Dengue is spread by the A. Aegypti mosquito; due to climate change and an increase in urbanization, these mosquitos now have an increased range in infection and a greater density of possible hosts. With no known vaccine or cure for dengue virus, the most prudent form of disease control is to control vectors - the mosquitos. While insecticides are an attractive option, they can pose serious risk to via biomagnification and toxicity. Recently, Monash University in Australia has attempted to curb the growing Aegypti mosquito population by intentionally infecting these mosquitos with a bacteria known as Wolbachia. In lab, Wolbachia has been known to dramatically decrease the rate of viral replication of dengue; additionally, Wolbachia can be spread at the cellular level to young. Several populations of infected mosquitos have been released to yards and pools around Australia in an attempt to cause a bacterial epidemic in the Aegyptis population.

Alex Lindqwister

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