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Wolbachia to be introduced to control dengue

Health Ministry Secretary Janaka Sugathadasa and Australian Ambassador Bryce Hutchesson exchanging the documents after signing the agreement.

An agreement was signed between Sri Lanka and Australia to introduce Wolbachia bacteria to Sri Lanka to control dengue, Health Ministry spokesman said.

Health Ministry Secretary Janaka Sugathadasa signed the agreement on behalf of the Sri Lankan Government, while ​Australian Ambassador Bryce Hutchesson signed on behalf of the Australian Government. The project will cost Rs. 120 million.

The Monash University of Australia will provide technical assistance to carry out field studies in selected areas in Sri Lanka to use Wolbachia bacteria. Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil and Colombia successfully use Wolbachia infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to control dengue, he said.

Wolbachia bacteria live in bodies of over 60 insects including mosquitoes. When dengue mosquitoes were infected with Wolbachia bacteria, the virus does not develop inside their bodies up to the level of spreading it out.

Last year, 177,000 dengue patients and 400 dengue deaths were reported. This year so far 8,060 dengue patients and five deaths were reported, he said.