Students keen to learn about research in Brazil

A throng of post-graduate students welcomed our researchers to the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in July, when Program Leader Professor Scott O’Neill and Eliminate Dengue Brazil Project Leader Dr Luciano Moreira presented at the International Seminar of Post-graduate Programs in Parasitic Biology and Computational Systems.

Prof O’Neill and Dr Moreira discussed the potential of our Wolbachia method in controlling dengue and explained how Wolbachia spreads into wild mosquito populations.

"We estimate that Aedes aegypti with Wolbachia should be released into the environment over 10 to 12 weeks for the bacteria to spread in the local insect population,” Prof O’Neill said.

“After that, there is no need to conduct further releases of mosquitoes. This is an important feature of the project, which contributes to its economic viability.”

Our Brazilian team is now preparing for the country’s first release of Wolbachia mosquitoes, with Dr Moreira commenting on the strong support the project has received so far.

“This project would not advance without the significant support received from the Municipal Health Departments of Rio de Janeiro and Niterói, the Ministry of Health and especially the communities,” he said.

We have been visiting residents in Tubiacanga, Vila Valqueire and Urca, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, and Jurujuba in Niterói since 2012, giving them the opportunity to learn about the project and ask questions. We have received an encouraging response, with a recent survey in Tubiacanga showing high levels of support for the release of Wolbachia mosquitoes.

Prof O’Neill emphasised that transparency is a hallmark of our research around the world.

“We strive to explain what we do and to take into account the views of the communities,” he said.

“Most people know that current strategies are failing to overcome dengue and are happy to see a new possibility to control the disease.”

Photo: Program Leader Professor Scott O’Neill (right) gives an update on the Eliminate Dengue research project in Brazil, with local Project Leader Dr Luciano Moreira.