Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University
Director, Sun Yat-sen University–Michigan State University Joint Center of Vector Control for Tropical Diseases.
Read the in-depth story from CNN here… “Inside China’s ‘mosquito factory’ fighting Zika and dengue”
Dengue Fever, and associated dengue hemorrhagic fever, is emerging globally as the most important arboviral disease threatening human populations. Approximately 2.5 billion people are at risk of the disease and each year an estimated 50-100 million cases occur. Moreover, this disease continues to both expand into temperate climates and increase in severity.
The virus is transmitted to humans by the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. In the U.S., Ae. albopictus is present in 36 states while Ae. aegypti is found in several southern states. Experience elsewhere in the world shows that the disease’s occurrence usually follows where the mosquitoes are breeding.
At the present time, no treatment or vaccine is available for dengue fever leaving vector control as the primary intervention tool. My long-term goal is to develop control strategies to block dengue virus transmission in mosquitoes. In nature, about 28 percent of mosquito species harbor Wolbachia bacteria, but the mosquitoes that are the primary transmitters of dengue have no Wolbachia in them. We found that Wolbachia is able to stop the dengue virus from replicating. If there is no virus in the mosquito, it can’t spread to people, so disease transmission can be blocked.