1. When and where have Wolbachia mosquitoes been released in Brazil?
Since 2014, Eliminate Dengue Brazil has undertaken field trials using Wolbachia in two neighbourhoods – Tubiacanga in Rio de Janeiro (2014-15) and Jurujuba in Niteroi (2015). Results of these field trials have been encouraging and the project is now preparing for expansion as part of national and international efforts to combat Zika and other mosquito-borne viruses in Brazil.
Over the next three years, the proposed expansion will reach a population of around 2.5 million people across the municipalities of Rio de Janeiro and Niterói, allowing researchers to scientifically measure the impact of Wolbachia in reducing the transmission of disease.
3. Do residents support you releasing these mosquitoes?
We only release Wolbachia mosquitoes with the support of communities. Prior to the first release our researchers and community engagement team spent more than two years monitoring mosquitoes and working with the local community.
During and after releases, we will continue to engage with the local community to ensure that residents are informed about and understand our research and are comfortable with its continuation.
4. Do you have regulatory approval to release Wolbachia mosquitoes?
Eliminate Dengue Brazil has received regulatory and ethics approval to conduct releases of Wolbachia mosquitoes.
After rigorous evaluation of the health and environmental safety of the Wolbachia method, approval for field trials was granted by CONEP (National Ethical Review Board), ANVISA (National Agency for Health Regulation), IBAMA (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) and MAPA (Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock).
5. Where did the first mosquitoes with Wolbachia come from? Is IBAMA aware of the research?
The mosquito eggs with Wolbachia were brought from Australia to Brazil with authorisation from the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA). Mosquitoes reared from these eggs have been introduced to local Aedes aegypti mosquitoes under laboratory conditions. A colony of Wolbachia Aedes aegypti was reared over many generations at Fiocruz labs, in preparation for releasing these Wolbachia mosquitoes in Brazil.
6. What happens to ongoing dengue prevention in Brazil?
People in Brazil should continue to protect themselves from being bitten by mosquitoes as they normally would and as recommended by the Ministry of Health. Our approach is complementary to control strategies already underway such as removing breeding sites.