Plans to increase wolbachia carrying mosquitoes

Fiji 7s rugby Olympian Jasa Veremalua today released Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes at Suva’s Ratu Sukuna Park to mark Wolbachia Celebrations. Picture: JESSICA SAVIKE

PLANS are in place to increase the rate of wolbachia carrying mosquitoes, an innovative, natural, self-sustaining approach to tackling mosquito borne diseases such as dengue.

Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services chief health inspector Dip Chand said in two to three years’ time, they plan to have more wolbachia carrying mosquitoes than wild mosquitoes in Fiji.

Wolbachia are natural and safe bacteria present in up to 60 per cent of insect species, including some mosquitoes.

However, Wolbachia is not usually found in the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the primary species responsible for transmitting human viruses such as Zika, dengue and chikungunya.

The World Mosquito Program’s research has shown that when introduced into the Aedes aegypti mosquito, Wolbachia can help to reduce the transmission of these viruses to people.

This important discovery has the potential to transform the fight against life-threatening mosquito-borne diseases.

Five cans containing 150 wolbachia mosquitoes were released at Ratu Sukuna Park in Suva today by 7s rugby Olympian and wolbachia champion Jasa Veremalua marking Wolbachia Celebrations at Ratu Sukuna Park in Suva today.

Mr Chand said the Australian Government has fully funded this project of about $3.5 million which has been distributed in Fiji, Kiribati and Vanuatu.

He said this was only phase one of the project which only covers the Suva, Nausori and Lami corridors.

“From January we will be going to the Western Division which is the second phase and it will cover the Sigatoka to Ba corridor,” said Mr Chand.

He added that the second phase is funded by the New Zealand Government.

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