Scientists from Australia, in a bid to fight Dengue fever caused by infected mosquitoes, is planning to release a swarm of resistant mosquitoes into the environment.
These mosquitoes will be resistant to the tropical disease and will soon infiltrate the dengue mosquito population, thus preventing the spread of the potentially fatal disease.
Small-scale trials have already been conducted in communities but the city of Townsville, Queensland, with a population of 189,000, will be the first time an entire city is targeted.
At present, dengue has no particular treatment or vaccine but Scott O'Neill from Monash University, who is involved in the research, hopes that the city-wide trial that will start by the end of the year, and will eventually help in curbing the endemic disease.
"This will be the first-large scale trial of our method and we are committed to being open and responsive with the Townsville community about our research," said O'Neill, according to Phys.org.
In the trials, mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia, a type of bacteria, was introduced in small numbers to communities in northern Australia. Researchers have revealed that Wolbachia prevents infected mosquitoes from transmitting Dengue fever.
"The science has been very good and it's looking very promising. We could have a very sizeable impact on dengue fever around the world and hopefully one day contribute significantly to eliminating it," O'Neill told ABC Radio.
If the small-scale model becomes successful, O'Neill expects the method to be used across the world to fight for the disease. Reports from World Health Organization estimates that the infection affects around 50-100 million people each year.
"We've just had an outbreak in northern Queensland of over 170 dengue cases—which is small on a global scale—but still 170 cases too many," said Gary Eddiehausen, who is chair of the Townsville community group looking at the plan.
"We now have an opportunity in Townsville to consider how we may be able to assist in reducing possible future dengue outbreaks in our own backyards—and being part of something that reaches so much further," he added.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne infection found in tropical and sub-tropical regions. It is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito that can hoist the virus from an infected human and transmit it to the next person.