Fighting dengue with carnivorous mosquitoes

PETALING JAYA (July 30, 2012): The introduction of carnivorous mosquitoes to eat up aedes larvae in dengue hotspots has proven successful, Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) deputy president Abdullah Marjunid said today.
The pilot project at USJ1 last year in June, and the second phase in Kampung Seri Aman in January – undertaken by Universiti Sains Malaysia, CIMB Bank and the council – has seen more than 1,000 toxorhynchites (toxo) mosquitoes being released.
"Since then, there have been no outbreaks of dengue in the research areas and Seri Aman residents are giving their full support for the project," he said after implementing Phase 3 of the project, which saw another 400 toxo mosquitoes and 100 larvae being released in the village today.
"Unlike other mosquitoes, toxo mosquitoes do not feed on human blood but on larvae and nectar, so they do not pose a problem to humans," he added.
The entire project, costing RM60,000, was funded by CIMB Bank.
Dengue is a growing problem in the country, and in Selangor especially as the state has recorded the highest number of dengue cases in the country this year. Between January and May 12, a total of 4,161 cases were reported, with 10 resulting in deaths.
Nationwide, according to the Health Ministry, from January to July 14 this year, there were 12,518 dengue cases with 25 deaths compared to 11,124 cases and 19 deaths during the same period last year.
MPSJ Health Department director Dr Roslan Mohamed Husin said Kampung Seri Aman had been chosen as a research area due to a dengue outbreak in the area in 2010 and studies which showed the area had a high breeding rate of the aedes mosquito.
"This year, there have been less than 15 dengue cases in the area, which shows our efforts have indeed curbed the breeding of aedes mosquitoes," he said, adding there were no cases of cross-breeding so far.
The toxo mosquito is larger than other mosquitoes, averaging 19mm in length, or the size of a 10 sen coin. Its lifespan is around three weeks, and during this time it can eat up to 400 larvae.
Dr Roslan said it was up to USM whether new areas should be identified for the introduction of more toxo mosquitoes, as the data collected from the areas is sent back to the university for research purposes into the feasibility of this initiative.

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