While dengue fever or virus is not often fatal, its symptoms include fever, severe muscle and joint pain, and a skin rash similar to measles. This mosquito-borne disease not common in the continental U.S., but, according to a study published in July, ‘Brazil has reported 7 million cases of dengue fever between 2000 and 2013.’
As response to the growing concerns in South America, scientists released tens of thousands of infected supermosquitoes into neighborhoods. The supermosquitoes carry the wolbachia bacteria, a new, natural weapon in the battle with dengue fever. Wolbachia bacteria is found in 60 percent of all insects, but it cannot be transmitted to humans. Australian researchers discovered that the bacteria can serve as a dengue vaccine in mosquitoes so they cannot pass it on to humans.
Hopefully, the bacteria will be passed through generations of mosquitoes and eventually halt the spread dengue fever by mosquitoes.
According to the CDC, ‘more than one-third of the world’s population living in areas at risk for infection, dengue virus is a leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics. As many as 400 million people are infected yearly. Dengue is caused by any one of four related viruses transmitted by mosquitoes.’
CDC also reports that, ‘dengue has emerged as a worldwide problem only since the 1950s. Although dengue rarely occurs in the continental United States, it is endemic in Puerto Rico and in many popular tourist destinations in Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands.
Ren Kimura and Susumu Hotta isolated the dengue virus for the first time in 1943. The scientists were analyzing blood samples of patients taken during the 1943 dengue epidemic in Nagasaki, Japan. A year later, Albert B. Sabin and Walter Schlesinger independently isolated the dengue virus. Both pairs of scientists had isolated the virus now referred to as dengue virus 1 (DEN-1). Is DEN-1 the only type of dengue virus?