A win for Wolbachia: Australian health authorities adopt innovative method

The World Mosquito Program’s (WMP) approach continues in Queensland as local health authorities lead the implementation of our innovative Wolbachia method. Two new projects to protect communities from mosquito-borne diseases are currently underway in Ingham and the Northern Peninsula Area. Building on successful trials in Cairns and Townsville, the new projects are using the WMP’s Public Acceptance Model that has proven highly effective in raising community awareness and acceptance of the mosquito deployment program.

“Our success in Townsville and Cairns has laid the foundation for future deployments of our Wolbachia method in Queensland, led by local health authorities,” says Professor O’Neill, the WMP’s Director. 

“These projects pave the way for governments and health agencies around the world to lead the implementation of our Wolbachia method.”

Dengue Safe Project Ingham

The Dengue Safe Project Ingham is a partnership between Townsville Hospital and Health Service, Hinchinbrook Shire Council and the WMP.

Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes have been introduced in Cairns, Townsville, Innisfail, Tully and Charters Towers and there has been a significant reduction in both the frequency and size of local outbreaks,” says Townsville Public Health Unit’s Director, Dr Steven Donohue.

“We're excited our team is demonstrating that the WMP's Wolbachia method can be implemented by local health authorities,” he says. “We are in a position where we are within touching distance of eliminating outbreaks of dengue in North Queensland.”

The project has already begun recruiting volunteers to host egg containers with Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes in their backyards, with releases proposed for early 2019.

Dengue Out Program

The second project underway is the Dengue Out Program, a collaboration between the Tropical Public Health Service (TPHS), the Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council and the WMP.

“We’re delighted that the Northern Peninsula Area is the first community on Cape York and the Torres Strait to implement the WMP’s Wolbachia method,” says Tropical Public Health Service’s Medical Director, Dr Richard Gair.

“This project is an exciting opportunity to protect communities in NPA from dengue and other viruses and to contribute to global efforts.”

For more information, email TPHS or phone 1800 DENGUE.

In Australia, the World Mosquito Program has implemented its Wolbachia method in Cairns, Townsville, Charters Towers, Tully, Innisfail and Port Douglas. After seven years of working in these northern Queensland communities, long-term monitoring shows that Wolbachia is self-sustaining at high levels. In areas where high levels of Wolbachia are present, there has been no evidence of local dengue transmission.

Learn more about our work in Australia.