JASIN: The Health Ministry will expand the release of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes in states that have seen an increase in dengue fever cases.
Deputy Health Minister Lukanisman Awang Sauni said the programme so far involved 27 localities in five states and territories – Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang, Melaka and Sabah –as part of dengue control measures.
"We have released 300,000 mosquitoes in Melaka since March last year, with Taman Bemban Jaya selected based on criteria set by the ministry and the World Health Organisation (WHO)," he said.
According to Lukanisman, the first phase involves the release of Aedes mosquito eggs infected with the Wolbachia bacteria.
"Now, we are entering the second phase, which involves releasing adult mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia," he said after releasing mosquitoes in the second phase at Taman Bemban Jaya here on Tuesday (May 30).
Nearly 100,000 adult mosquitoes with Wolbachia will be released in batches of over 10,000 weekly for eight consecutive weeks from Tuesday.
Lukanisman also said that no cases of dengue fever were reported from the locality where the mosquitoes with Wolbachia were released in the 21st epidemiological week, reflecting a positive result for the programme.
"We will also monitor and provide information to the community regularly so that they do not kill these mosquitoes.
"It is one of the safest and most effective methods of fighting dengue," he added.
Wolbachia bacteria shorten the lifespan of their hosts and also compete against viruses like dengue, Zika and chikungunya, making it difficult for them to multiply inside the insects' bodies.