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Australian Innovation Fights Mosquito Borne Diseases Across Latin America

The World Mosquito Program wants to expand its pioneering technique to stop transmission of mosquito-borne diseases across Latin America.

Speaking at the recent Australian Latin American Business Council Dinner in Brisbane, Professor Cameron Simmons – Director of Impact Assessment for the World Mosquito Program – described successful trials including Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

In conversation with a group of business leaders, Professor Simmons described WMP’s unique, self-sustaining ‘Wolbachia Method’ - a safe, natural and effective way of stopping transmission of Dengue, the Zika Virus, chikungunya and yellow fever.

When asked about the potential of World Mosquito Program’s work across Latin America, Professor Simmons said,

“Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya are significant health issues across Latin America. There is growing demand for our Wolbachia method from governments and communities throughout the region. With the right funding and support, we know our proven method can reduce the burden of these diseases on communities”.

The method involves establishing Wolbachia in mosquito populations. A naturally occurring bacteria, Wolbachia is found in 60% of insects – but not found in the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, the main transmitter of these diseases.

Once Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes are injected with the Wolbachia bacteria, they have a reduced ability to transmit viruses to people.

The World Mosquito Program breeds Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes and releases them into communities. These then breed with the local mosquito population and over time the percentage of Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes becomes so high that no further releases are required.

The Wolbachia method was developed by Australian researchers and its first test project site was established in north Queensland in 2011.

The success of this project meant dengue fever is virtually eradicated in Far North Queensland – the first time in 100 years.

The Queensland success is a launching pad for World Mosquito Program to expand its work to disease impacted communities around the world, with Latin America a particular area of focus.

To meet the demand from governments and communities, WMP has established a Regional Hub in Panama to deliver projects across the region.

1.2 million people have been reached through large scale Wolbachia releases in Brazil in Rio de Janiero and Niteroi, in partnership with Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz and the Ministry of Health.

Further projects are underway in Bello and Medellin in Colombia in partnership with University of Antioquia and La Paz in Mexico partnering with Baja California Sur Health.

The World Mosquito Program has a global goal of reaching 100 million people worldwide by 2023.

For further information or to partner with World Mosquito Program as it grows its impact across Latin America, please visit https://www.worldmosquitoprogram.org/ or contact Kieran Walters kieran.walters@worldmosquito.org or Janina Khayali janina.khayali@worldmosquito.org

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