Scientists have trialed the release of mosquitoes which are resistant to dengue fever into small communities in northern Australia. In the trials, mosquitoes were infected with a bacteria called Wolbachia, which prevents them from transmitting dengue.

Scientists engaged in the project believe that over time the Wolbachia mosquitoes will halt the spread of the disease by breeding out mosquitoes carrying dengue.

Professor Scott O’Neill, of Monash University, said he is meeting with Townsville community representatives to discuss the possibility of conducting a city-wide trial by the end of the year.

“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,” he told ABC Radio. “The science has been very good and it’s looking very promising.” Professor O’Neill said If the Townsville model is successful, he hoped the method could be used around the globe to combat the disease, which the World Health Organisation estimates infects up to 100 million people a year.

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