New method to fight dengue in trial stage, says minister

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GEORGE TOWN: The health ministry will need between two and three years before it decides to adopt the method of releasing mosquitoes infected with bacteria to suppress the incidence of dengue fever in the country.

Minister, Dr S Subramaniam said the pilot project which started in February was now in the trial stage at two areas in Selangor, namely Shah Alam and AU Keramat.

“Although the outcome of the method is yet to be finalised, it nevertheless is showing positive signs as the number of dengue cases in the two areas is on a decline,” he told a press conference after launching the national-level Asean Dengue Day 2017 here today.

He said the mosquito eggs which had been injected with the bacteria did not carry the dengue virus.

“The mosquitoes infected with the bacteria were then released in the identified areas where the disease was recorded and the ministry would monitor the number of mosquitoes and dengue cases in the respective areas,” added Dr Subramaniam.

The minister said the method, conducted in collaboration with an institute in the United Kingdom, would be closely monitored for its effectiveness and side-effects before being expanded to other areas.

To date, the method is being applied by several countries such as the United States, Australia and Singapore to combat dengue fever.

Earlier in his speech, Dr Subramaniam said 53,750 cases of dengue fever and 122 deaths were recorded nationwide from January to July 15, as compared to 61,534 cases and 135 deaths during the same period last year.

Meanwhile, the ministry in a statement said that 6,031 construction sites were inspected nationwide from January to July 8, with 370 of them compounded for breeding Aedes.

A total of 1,790 vacant lots were also identified as being at risk of being Aedes breeding sites and of this number, 1,418 land lots had been cleared and larvicided.

Larvicide involves the spraying of insecticide on a surface of water to kill mosquito larvae.