Selangor using bio-warfare against Aedes scourge

Ipoh city council workers are seen fogging drains in Taman Meru, Ipoh March 27, 2018. ― Picture by Farhan Najib
Ipoh city council workers are seen fogging drains in Taman Meru, Ipoh March 27, 2018. ― Picture by Farhan Najib

SHAH ALAM, March 21 — The Selangor government has added a new weapon in its war against the dengue outbreak and the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Health, Welfare, Women Empowerment and Family executive councillor Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud said the state is releasing Aedes eggs infected with the Wolbachia bacteria that can stop the dengue virus from replicating.

“This year we have a new strategy in controlling and eradicating dengue. Together with the Health Ministry we are trying to control it using the Wolbachia bacterium. This bacterium is common among insects but it does not infect the Aedes aegypti.

“However, we have successfully infected Aedes mosquito eggs with Wolbachia and we will release the infected eggs into the dengue hotspots. Once these eggs hatched and they mate with other aedes in the wild it will infect the future generations.

“New eggs laid by infected female Aedes mosquito will have a 100 per cent infected rate for the Wolbachia bacterium,” she said during Question Time at the Selangor assembly today.

She said Malaysia is the 10th country to pioneer the Wolbachia research and would be the second country after Australia to release Aedes eggs infected with Wolbachia to battle the growing epidemic.

Wolbachia is the latest in the state’s arsenal against dengue. Other methods such as awareness programmes, fogging and gotong-royong among others will continue.

Hulu Bernam assemblyman Datuk Rosni Sohar then pointed out that Selangor had the highest dengue infections in the country with 18,2015 cases reported with 17 deaths this year.

“We are not seeing a decrease but an increase. It is only the first quarter for this year but we have reported 18,205 cases this year with 17 deaths.

“What sort of enforcement is the state doing regarding housing areas, abandoned buildings and construction areas that breed Aedes mosquitoes?” questioned the Umno lawmaker.

Dr Siti Mariah responded saying that the 200 per cent spike is a national and regional trend and explained that the Aedes mosquito breeds in highly populated areas such as markets, night markets, places of worship, bus stations and illegal farms.

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