Mosquitoes are infected with bacteria called Wolbachia, which not only interfere with the ability of viruses to live in the bodies of insects, but also control reproduction, so mosquitoes have only 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, about half of whom lived in areas where the modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes lived and bred.
Dengue fever was diagnosed in 9.4% of people living in areas with unmodified mosquitoes and 2.3% of people living in areas where modified mosquitoes were released. “The protective efficacy of the intervention was 77.1%,” the researchers wrote.
“There are very few randomized trials of dengue mosquito interventions,” said a statement from Dr. Katie Anders of the World Mosquito Program, which helped sponsor the process.
“These results from the Yogyakarta experiments clearly show that Wolbachia works to reduce dengue incidence and dengue hospitalizations,” she added.
Mosquitoes have also been tested in Florida Keys and Australia.
“Indonesia has more than 7 million dengue cases each year,” said Adi Utarini of the University of Gadja Mada, who is working on the study. “We believe there is a possible future for Indonesian city dwellers to live without money.”