Wolbachia mosquitoes released in first city-wide trial

Our first city-wide trial has begun in Townsville today (30 October 2014), with the release of Wolbachia mosquitoes in the north Australian city. After nearly four years of small-scale trials in Cairns, Vietnam, Indonesia and recently Brazil, the city-wide trial is an exciting step for our research method.

We have received hundreds of expressions of interest from the public to participate in the research in Townsville. Our Townsville team will be knocking on doors in South Townsville in the coming days asking residents to host mosquito release containers (pictured) for the next two months. The field trial will then work its way across central Townsville suburbs over the next 12-18 months.

We will monitor how well Wolbachia establishes in the mosquito population of Townsville. Over a few generations it is hoped all Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the area will carry Wolbachia and so reduce dengue transmission.

Program Leader Professor Scott O’Neill joined our team in Townsville to share what he described as a ‘significant step forward’ for the research program.

“This is our first large scale release of Wolbachia,” he said. “What we learn will prepare us for even larger future trials in dengue-endemic cities like Yogyakarta, in Indonesia and Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, where hundreds of thousands of dengue cases are reported each year. Through these trials we will then be able to directly measure the impact of Wolbachia on reducing dengue disease in affected communities.”

Read more about our field trial in Townsville.