KUALA LUMPUR: An operation to release mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria in 10 localities will be carried out in July to boost control of dengue, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
She said the move was decided following the success of the pioneer programme in five localities conducted since 2017, in which nearly four million Wolbachia-infected Aedes mosquitoes were released.
“The Wolbachia-infected mosquito is an innovation to tackle the rising dengue cases by injecting Wolbachia bacteria into Aedes Aegypti mosquito eggs.
“The Wolbachia-infected mosquito will inhibit the growth of the dengue virus in the mosquito and subsequently inhibit the spread of the dengue virus,” Dr Wan Azizah told reporters after chairing the National Level Committee on Dengue at Parliament House yesterday.
She said with the technique, the committee was targeting a reduction of 60% to 70% of dengue cases in the released locality, thus reducing the mortality rate for dengue.
She also said the committee agreed to study the use of artificial intelligence to predict dengue outbreak localities.
“Artificial intelligence is important to analyse variables such as wind speed, humidity and rain distribution.
“The time has come for us to forecast the spread of dengue rather than reacting to control the outbreak,” she added.
Dr Wan Azizah said according to Health Ministry data, a total of 36,285 dengue cases were reported from January to March this year compared to 14,734 cases for the same period in 2018.
For dengue fatalities, 59 deaths were reported nationwide from January to March this year compared to 32 deaths for the same period in 2018, a rise of 84.4% or 27 more deaths, she said.
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