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The Power of Wolbachia: Preventing Dengue Fever In Indonesia

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA — Studies by a research team in Yogyakarta over 12 years prove the application of technology wolbachia effectively reducing the number of cases hemorrhagic fever or what is also known as dengue. However, how can this intervention actually prevent people from contracting dengue?

Professor Adi Utarini or usually known as Professor Uut, a public health expert from Gadjah Mada University (UGM), explained further about this. Uut explained this at the national webinar of the Indonesian Muslim Scholars Association (ICMI) entitled “Dissemination Wolbachia mosquito in Indonesia”, Friday (24/11/2023).

Uut said that wolbachia is a natural bacteria in the bodies of insects. Wolbachia technology refers to a condition where the bacteria are deliberately introduced into the Aedes aegypti mosquito via mosquito eggs. The presence of this bacteria in the body of the Aedes aegypti mosquito can reduce the replication of the dengue virus.

The woman wearing the hijab also refuted the disinformation that has been circulating about the wolbachia bacteria. “Wolbachia cannot be transferred to humans. Wolbachia bacteria only live in insect cells, so it is safe for humans, animals and the environment,” he said.

As proof, the Uut research team, which breeds Wolbachia mosquitoes in an insect laboratory, is often bitten by these mosquitoes. When their blood was checked periodically and serological examinations were carried out, no antibodies to wolbachia were found.

Meanwhile, if the bacteria is in the body of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, it is actually effective in inhibiting the development or replication of the virus dengue on the mosquito’s body. In other words, when a mosquito bites a human, there is little chance that the human being bitten by the mosquito will be infected with the dengue virus.

According to Uut, this technology can provide long-term community protection. However, people need to differentiate between the cause of the disease and the carrier of the virus. The cause of dengue fever is the dengue virus, while mosquitoes are carriers of the virus which can transmit it.

“The natural bacterium Wolbachia fights the virus, not the mosquito. Mosquitoes are still around us. It is very difficult in tropical countries to get rid of mosquitoes,” said Uut.

On the same occasion, the General Chairperson of the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) Executive Board, Mohammad Adib Khumaedi, said that overcoming dengue cannot be done with a single strategy. Because this condition is complex and requires comprehensive efforts.

To prevent and limit the occurrence of disease, vector control is needed. In environmental health terms, a vector is an organism that transmits pathogens and parasites from one infected human (or animal) to another.

One form of controlling dengue vectors is, for example, by eradicating mosquito nests, carrying out 3M (draining, covering, burying), changing water in holding tanks regularly, and cleaning stagnant water channels. The public is also advised to control mosquito breeding by keeping fish in holding ponds or eradicating mosquito larvae with Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria.

Chemically, you can sprinkle abate powder into water reservoirs, as well as fogging or fumigation with malathion and fenthion. Wolbachia technological innovations, studies of which have been ongoing since 2011, can also be carried out.

The efforts included in the “World Mosquito Program” have received WHO recommendations for implementation in Indonesia, especially since the risk level has been proven to be the lowest. According to Adib, any coping strategies must be socialized appropriately.

“Involving active community participation, including environment, sanitation, healthy lifestyles and education, must be explained well to the public,” said Adib.

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2023-11-25 12:37:33
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