Researchers find way to control some mosquito-borne illnesses - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Researchers find way to control some mosquito-borne illnesses

Courtesy:  CDC Courtesy: CDC
Courtesy:  CDC Courtesy: CDC

Researchers in Australia and Asia have found that infecting mosquitoes with a bacteria called Wolbachia essentially prevents them from getting dengue fever.  And if the mosquitoes can't get it, they can't pass it on to humans.

So can the same be done for the West Nile virus?

"The problem that you run into is with West Nile, that's a bird to mosquito vector to a human, where the human is a dead-end host," said John Townsend with Maricopa County Environmental Services Department.

With dengue fever, the virus is spread through a human-to-mosquito-to-human transmission cycle via the aedes aegypti mosquito.

The West Nile virus cycles between dozens of mosquito species and birds.  Those mosquitoes become infected by biting birds.  The mosquitoes then bite and infect people, as well as other mammals.

"Instead of having one species of mosquitoes that is your main vector, you have 30 to 40 throughout the United States," said Townsend.

Therefore, a similar bacteria would have to work on all of those mosquitoes before an attempt at controlling West Nile can be made. The other challenge is a limited window of opportunity, being viruses tend to mutate rapidly.

"Just like the scientists do with the flu, they're always trying to stay one step ahead, trying to guess what's this going to do next," added Townsend.

Maricopa County Environmental Services say that for the most part, we deal with mosquitoes pretty much all year long because our mild temperatures never kill them off completely.

The best thing you can do around your home is to eliminate any standing water.

For more information on the West Nile virus, click here.

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