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Kuba relies on a bacterium that stops the spread of dengue

Aedes aegypti, Dengue Mosquito
Photo: reference

The dengue epidemic suffered by several Latin American countries also affects, albeit to a lesser extent, Cuba, where specialists trust that they will stop the virus with a new weapon: wolbachia bacteria and sterilization of male mosquitoes.

"These are two tools that are used in several evaluated countries. Well used, along with other community measures and contributions, could support us much better than what we have in our hands today to stop the agent, "said Efe Guadalupe Guzmán, research director at the Institute of Tropical Medicine Pedro Kourí.

Dr Guzmán heads the 16th International Course on Dengue, Ziki and other emerging arboviruses, which began on August 12 and lasts until Friday, 23 in Havana with experts from around 50 countries, including representatives from World and Pan-American Health Organizations.

Wolbachia is a bacterium found in 60% of mosquitoes and prevents mosquitoes Aedes aegypti transmit dengue, zika and chikungunya.

The Aedes aegypti they do not naturally have bacteria, so they are introduced into the laboratory through biotechnology. After release, they reproduce with wild mosquitoes, and over time the percentage of mosquitoes with wolbachia increases until this figure stays high without the need for new releases.

"That is why we focus on mosquitoes infected with wolbachia, that after exceeding the one that was born, it is infected, thus creating a population of resistant mosquitoes, so that the virus does not spread when it bites you," said the doctor.

According to data from the World Health Organization published at this conference, seven out of ten people in America are exposed to dengue, a disease that exceeds two million cases in the region this year.

Cuban epidemiologist Luis Valdés, who participated in this event, highlighted another important method of this Cuba increases raise the disease: mass release Aedes Aegypti Sterile in areas of infection.

«The latest novelty that is taking place in other countries, such as Mexico and Brazil, is the release of sterile mosquitoes to cope with females and not reproduce. The female bites, because it must mature eggs, but if it is not fertilized, it cannot carry dengue, it does not bite – he explained.

This technique, in which males are sterilized by radiation doses, has the disadvantage that its operation is temporary, which makes it necessary to constantly release a batch of mosquitoes to keep the population of these insects low.

Cuba This is one of the countries in the region where the effects of dengue are less severe: local authorities claim that only 1,000 deaths have been registered so far.

It is estimated that the actual number can be much higher because often people who have arbovirosis do not see a doctor or notify health authorities about avoiding the quarantine protocol in these cases.

"The policy of early admission of cases with symptoms of this disease makes it possible to monitor these patients with differentiated medical care and because of this the number of complicated and dead cases is extremely low," said epidemiologist Efe.

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