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Common bacteria could cut spread of mosquito-borne disease

A common type of bacteria could help curtail the spread of mosquito-borne diseases by making the pests more resistant to infection, according to a study published Thursday in the US journal Cell.

The research built on an earlier study that found the lives of one type of disease-carrying mosquitoes could be cut in half by infecting them with a bacterium extracted from fruit flies.

"Together with the previously described life-shortening effects, the results suggest we might be able to have a major impact on disease," said study author Scott O'Neill of The University of Queensland.

Mosquitoes infected with the bacteria proved resistant to dengue fever and Chikungunya, an insect-borne virus. They also became poor hosts for a form of malaria parasites that infect birds.

There is no vaccine or cure for dengue fever, a painful and debilitating disease that kills more than 40,000 people and afflicts 50 million more every year. Chikungunya usually isn't fatal, but can cause symptoms similar to dengue.

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