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Mosquito Parasite May Help Fight Dengue Fever

Dengue fever is a terrible viral disease blighting many of the world's tropical regions. Carried by mosquitoes, such as Aedes aegypti, 40% of the world's population is believed to be at risk from the infection. What is more, previous exposure to other strains of the fever does not confer protection. In fact, subsequent infections are significantly worse, and can result in fatal dengue haemorrhagic fever.

The lack of a functioning vaccine forced Scott O'Neill and Elizabeth McGraw to look for a more creative form of defence. Knowing that a parasite, Wolbachia pipientis, shortens the lifespan of host insects and could restrict dengue fever transmission by killing the insects before they can pass the infection on, O'Neill and his team successfully infected Ae. aegypti with a strain of the Wolbachia bacterium and shortened the mosquitoes' lifespan.
 
 

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