Mosquitoes are infected with bacteria called Wolbachia, which not only interferes with the virus’ ability to live in the insect bodies, but also controls reproduction, so the mosquito only has Wolbachia-infected offspring. The result is a growing population of insects that do not transmit viruses such as dengue, yellow fever and Zika.
The study involved more than 8,000 people, of whom approx. half lived in areas where the modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes had lived and bred.
Dengue fever was diagnosed in 9.4% of those living in areas with unmodified mosquitoes and 2.3% of people living in areas where the modified mosquitoes had been released. “The protective effect of the intervention was 77.1%,” the researchers wrote.
“There have been very few randomized trials of interventions against the dengue mosquito,” said Dr. Katie Anders of the World Mosquito Program, who helped sponsor the trial, in a statement.
“These trial results from Yogyakarta finally show that Wolbachia is working to reduce dengue incidence and dengue admissions,” she added.
Mosquitoes have also been tested in the Florida Keys and Australia.
“Indonesia has more than 7 million dengue cases each year,” said Adi Utarini of the University of Gadjah Mada, who worked on the study. “We believe there is a possible future where residents of Indonesian cities can live free of dengue.”