Bacteria-laden mosquitoes on Vietnam's island can control Zika spread: scientists

By Hien Luong, Thanh Nien News

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A woman breeds mosquitoes that carry Wolbachia bacteria on Tri Nguyen Island. Photo credit: National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology 
A new breed of mosquitoes injected with bacteria in central Vietnam has been proven to be able to stop the spread of dengue fever and the Zika virus, health officials announced. 
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia bacteria have been released since April 2013 on Tri Nguyen Island in Khanh Hoa Province. 
Scientists have officially confirmed the ability of these mosquitoes to block the Zika virus and prevent it from being transmitted to humans, Le Tan Phung, deputy director of Khanh Hoa Health Department, told Thanh Nien.
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are the main vector of both dengue fever and the Zika virus, but they naturally do not carry Wolbachia bacteria. But the ability will be inherited, making more mosquitoes unable to transmit the virus.
In April 2013, scientists handed over a total of 8,000 mosquito larvae injected with Wolbachia bacteria to nearly 800 families to breed on the island.
Tran Nhu Duong, deputy director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said that after three months, 70-80 percent of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes on the island carry the bacteria.
On February 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika outbreak an international health emergency. It cited a "strongly suspected" relationship between Zika infection in pregnancy to microcephaly, a condition marked by abnormally small head size in babies that can result in developmental problems.

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