The World Mosquito Program (WMP) is working in Colombia to protect local communities from mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika, dengue and chikungunya.
More than 25 million people, over half Colombia’s population, are at risk of dengue. A number of large-scale outbreaks have occurred in recent years. Similarly, the number of Zika cases rapidly increased following a global outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease in 2015.
In May 2015 the community of Paris, in the Bello neighbourhood, welcomed the country’s first release of Wolbachia mosquitoes. This marked the first step towards establishing Wolbachia in the mosquito population and reducing local dengue transmission.
The release came after almost two years of work in the laboratories at PECET, University of Antioquia and extensive engagement with the local community. Local and national government officials have put their support behind the project, in the hope it can offer a cost-effective, sustainable alternative to current dengue control approaches.
In early 2017, following encouraging results from small-scale trials, the WMP in Colombia expanded its project in the state of Antioquia. A large-scale research trial is now underway in Bello and Medellín. As well as scientifically measuring the impact of Wolbachia on the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases, this research is expected to demonstrate a significant reduction in new cases of Zika, dengue and chikungunya.
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