Dengue on its last legs

The scourge of dengue fever may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to the work being done by the Eliminate Dengue Australia project.

Northern Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald yesterday toured the Eliminate Dengue Australia facility in Townsville with Federal Member for Herbert Ewen Jones and received a briefing on their operational plan.

Senator Macdonald had previously toured the associated Dengue research facility at JCU in Cairns.

"This wonderful initiative, funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is now in full swing in Townsville," he said.

"The Eliminate Dengue initiative is using cutting-edge science to create methods that can be applied to eradicate dengue throughout the Tropical World."

The Eliminate Dengue Australia project is focused on introducing a naturally occurring bacteria Wolbachia into breeding populations of the dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito.

"Every year 2.5 billion people are at risk of contracting dengue and 390 million people actually do contract the virus," said Senator Macdonald.

"Once the Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes are introduced, they transmit the harmless bacteria to the entire local mosquito population who, eliminating their capacity to transmit dengue."

Field trials for the Eliminate Dengue Australia project began in Cairns in 2011 and have shown great success. Trials will begin in Townsville as soon as the proper community consultation had taken place.

"The Eliminate Dengue Australia project is absolutely professional in its approach. They are doing everything they can to inform and consult with the Townsville community – I urge all residents of North Queensland to support this important initiative,” said Senator Macdonald.

The Eliminate Dengue research program has already trialled its method in Cairns, as well as in Vietnam and Indonesia, and is looking to carry out further trials in Medellin in Colombia and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

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