20 Jul 2018

Dengue-fighting mozzies released in Fiji

11:59 am on 20 July 2018

Authorities in Fiji have started releasing batches of infected mosquitoes around Suva in a bid to control diseases like dengue.

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Photo: 123RF

The mosquitoes carry the Wolbachia bacteria which guards against the development and transmission of dengue, zika and chikungunya.

Aminiasi Tavui of the World Mosquito Programme in Fiji said the release and monitoring was taking place in the Lami to Nausori corridor around Suva.

"There was overwhelming support in an independent survey that was conducted by the team. It showed 98 percent of support from the community. The message is still the same. The people at large need to protect themselves from mosquito bites."

Aminiasi Tavui said the system was safe but people could say no if they don't want the mosquitoes released in their neighbourhood.

He said the released insects were the sixth generation of mosquitoes originally collected as eggs around Suva and then infected at Monash University in Australia.

Wolbachia is a naturally occurring bacteria which survives in 60 percent of insects.

"It's safe and self-sustaining", said Mr Tavui.

He said traps had been deployed around the release sites and adult mosquito samples would be collected and sent back to Monash to see if Wolbachia had taken hold in the communities.

The pilot, a partnership between the World Mosquito Programme and the Fiji government, is funded by the Australian government and will go on until December.

It will be rolled out in the west of Fiji next year with funding from New Zealand.

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