Malaysia's Ministry of Health (MOH) have released mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria at dengue hotspots in AU2 in Keramat on 29 March.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said that the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) is conducting the process to replace the population of wild Aedes mosquitoes.

"A total of 16,000 male and female Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes were released at 300 dengue hotspots in Keramat AU2 areas," he said.

Subramaniam said various anti-dengue activities involving residents at Section 7, Shah Alam, Selangor have been implemented before the Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes will be released.

Selangor Health, Welfare, Women and Family Affairs Committee chairman Dr Daroyah Alwi said that health inspectors at local councils have worked with resident associations, the Rukun Tetangga sector and village heads on programmes to engage residents to identify Aedes mosquito breeding areas and clean up the sites.

A community-based participatory approach to curb dengue infections

The initiative, known as Search and Destroy Aedes Rangers (Sedar) programme aims to identify ways to reduce the incidence of dengue in residential areas through a community-based participatory approach.

The Sedar programme provided residents with information on dengue and its symptoms, how transmission occurs and what people could do to prevent and stop the transmission.

"Our dengue figures are much fewer in the last three months compared to the same period last year. The people were instrumental in working with health officers and local council workers," she said.

Dr Daroyah said that there was more awareness of the disease among residents in Selangor, but she urges them to stay vigilant and work as a community to prevent dengue cases from rising.

"We must take heed that with the current hot weather and rain in the evenings, breeding sites will increase," she said.

Dr Daroyah added that community-led efforts were equally important as the local council's Health Department vector control unit in helping reduce the mosquito population and stem dengue transmission, which remain the main thrust to dengue prevention.

Wolbachia program will be monitored weekly

The IMR will monitor the deployment of such mosquitoes that is scheduled to take place on a weekly basis, until 60% of the population of wild Aedes mosquitoes in Keramat are replaced with the Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes, he added.

Studies have shown that Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes are able to prevent the spread of the dengue virus among humans. The Wolbachia strain used, wAlbB, is also heat resistant and able to transmit from mother to offspring with high reliability at 26° to 37°C, therefore the method is self-propagating.

The Wolbachia technique was recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and has been applied by countries such as Australia, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore.

There was no mention of whether the dengue vaccine will be approved or not. MIMS

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