Thursday May 23, 2019

$18 Million Donation to Target Mosquito-borne Diseases like Zika in Colombia and Brazil

The bacteria Wolbachia works by stopping the virus from growing inside the mosquito and thus spreading

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A technician releases Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with the dengue-blocking Wolbachia bacteria at the Tubiacanga neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Sept. 24, 2014. VOA

An international coalition of governments and philanthropic organisations has donated $18 million to fight Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses. The money will target the illnesses in Colombia and Brazil with a unique mosquito-control program.

The funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the British government, as well as Britain’s Welcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will be used to scale up the innovative, widely praised program being developed in Australia.

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Use bacteria to fight virus

Over the years, the nonprofit Eliminate Dengue Program, in collaboration with Melbourne’s Monash University, has demonstrated a way to transfer a naturally occurring bacterium in the lab, called Wolbachia, into mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus.

Wolbachia is carried by 60 percent of all insect species worldwide, experts say, but not by Aedes aegypti, the type of mosquito that spreads dengue and can also transmit Zika virus, yellow fever and chikungunya.

Once infected with Wolbachia, the altered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are unable to transmit dengue. When released into the wild, they mate with local mosquitoes, passing the bacteria to their offspring. Within a few months, the wild mosquitoes are unable to spread dengue to humans.

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Wolbachia works by stopping the virus from growing inside the mosquito and thus spreading.

FILE - Technicians carry containers filled with Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with the dengue-blocking Wolbachia bacteria before they are released at the Tubiacanga neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Sept. 24, 2014. Similar work has been done in Australia, Vietnam and Indonesia.
FILE – Technicians carry containers filled with Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with the dengue-blocking Wolbachia bacteria before they are released at the Tubiacanga neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Sept. 24, 2014. Similar work has been done in Australia, Vietnam and Indonesia. VOA

Researchers say the method of mosquito control is self-sustaining, having the potential to fight the life-threatening disease.

Trials to expand

Since 2011, the program has conducted field trials in Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam. The results show that when a high proportion of mosquitoes are infected, transmission of the virus stops. Small-scale field trials began in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2014, and last year in Bello, Colombia.

According to the World Health Organization, dengue infects almost 400 million people a year, mainly in tropical and subtropical countries.

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Severe dengue can cause death, especially in children.

The newly announced donations will rapidly scale up Wolbachia deployments in Latin America, beginning in 2017, to see how well the intervention works on a broader scale and in urban settings, hopefully leading to a significant reduction in Zika, dengue and chikungunya. (VOA)

Next Story

Measles Spread in Google’s Headquarters, Employees Discussing Ways To Protect Themselves

A select group of employees learned about the incident more than a week later, on April 13, when a company doctor emailed them about the infected the employee, the report said. 

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Later, however, the staff doctor sent a message to multiple internal groups at Google, reassuring a that they were safe while acknowledging that his communication had been "slow". Pixabay

Executives at Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters are discussing ways to protect themselves and their families from measles after one of them was found working at the office despite being infected by the highly contagious virus.

On Google’s internal forums, employees expressed shock because they were not told sooner about their sick colleague who had been spending time in its Mountain View office building — including a campus restaurant, BuzzFeed News reported on Thursday.

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Public health experts blame the uptick partially on the spread of anti-vaccine falsehoods on social media platforms, including Google’s YouTube, which, under public pressure, recently removed ads from known anti-vaccine video channels, the report said. Pixabay

The employee was present in the office on April 4.

A select group of employees learned about the incident more than a week later, on April 13, when a company doctor emailed them about the infected the employee, the report said.

Later, however, the staff doctor sent a message to multiple internal groups at Google, reassuring a that they were safe while acknowledging that his communication had been “slow”.

The reported case is part of a historic resurgence of measles in the US.

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On Google’s internal forums, employees expressed shock because they were not told sooner about their sick colleague who had been spending time in its Mountain View office building — including a campus restaurant, BuzzFeed News reported on Thursday. Pixabay

Also Read: Apple’s Recycling Robot Is Capable of Disassembling 200 iPhones Per Hour
At least 555 people have been infected this year by the virus, which was declared eliminated in 2000, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Public health experts blame the uptick partially on the spread of anti-vaccine falsehoods on social media platforms, including Google’s YouTube, which, under public pressure, recently removed ads from known anti-vaccine video channels, the report said.  (IANS)