Specialized Mosquitoes May Fight Tropical Disease

Posted Thursday, August 25, 2011 --- 7:00 a.m.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Scientists have made a promising advance using mosquitos to control a tropical disease normally spread by the insects.

They've rapidly replaced mosquitoes in the wild with ones that don't spread the virus that causes dengue fever.

More than 50 million people a year get the dengue virus from being bitten by infected mosquitoes in tropical and subtropical areas, including Southeast Asia. It can cause debilitating high fever, severe headaches, and pain in the muscles and joints, and lead to a potentially fatal complication. There's no vaccine or specific treatment.

Australian scientists infected virus-carrying mosquitos with a particular kind of bacteria which prevents them from spreading the disease and introduced the bugs in two test areas.

The next hurdle is to test the idea in areas where dengue is spread constantly and show it works against varied strains of the virus.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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