Dengue fever is ranked by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the most important mosquito-borne viral disease in the world.
The proposed trial in Townsville follows three years of encouraging small-scale trials in Cairns, and would involve releasing mosquitoes with Wolbachia to reduce the ability of mosquitoes to pass dengue between people. These mosquitoes then breed with the local wild mosquitoes and pass Wolbachia to their offspring. Over time it is hoped all the mosquitoes that transmit dengue will have the bacteria, and as a result reduce local dengue transmission.
Professor O’Neill, Dean of Monash University’s Faculty of Science, said they had already received great support from the Townsville community.
“This will be the first-large scale trial of our method and we are committed to being open and responsive with the Townsville community about our research. The community reference group will help us ensure we are meeting this commitment,” Professor O’Neill said.
The project team is meeting with the 12-member Townsville Community Reference group today for the first time to discuss the proposed trial.