NEA Releasing Male Wolbachia-Infected Mosquitoes in Bukit Batok & CCK to Combat Dengue

Some good news for the female mosquitoes out there: you’ll soon be finding yourselves surrounded by hot males in your area.

In fact, it is guaranteed that you will have your share of mosquito partners to choose from!

Image: Giphy

Why? Cause the Singaporean government is breeding mosquitoes and sending them out, starting with Bukit Batok and Choa Chu Kang.

If you’re a human reading this, you might be looking at your apocalypse calendar and thinking. “Well, Australia fires… Potential WW3… COVID… Economy Crash… We had UFO the other day… It’s May now. Yep. Seems about right on time. Our governments are losing it.”

Well not quite. Cause there’s bad news for all the female mosquitoes out there: Even if your chances of finding true love are now several times higher, you will not be able to have babies. All of them are sterile and infected with Wolbachia.

All About Wolbachia, Which Makes Mosquitoes Sterile

Wolba-Wobba… Wobbuffet! Yea, that Pokemon.

No. Wolbachia. If you were keeping attention, you’ll realise that word is somewhere in your deeper memories. Cause Wolbachia was already mentioned back in 2016. Research started even further back in 2012.

Wolbachia is a bacteria that occurs naturally and is found in more than 60% of insect species, including mosquito species. Although, Aedes mosquitoes, which we want to target in order to fight dengue, do not have them naturally.

Wolbachia compete with viruses like dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever, making it harder for those viruses to multiply. This means reduced dengue virus in mosquitoes.

So the plan is simple: infect all mosquitoes with Wolbachia.

And to do so, like your small influencers and big Hollywood movies, we use sex appeal and send hot single males to the female mosquitoes.

Then to make sure that we don’t just cause more problems to come up, all male mosquitoes will be sterile. Those which still managed to produce offsprings will likely inherit the disease.

Basically, the government is forcing the mosquitoes to play Too Hot To Handle (yeah, that Netflix show that regrettably got produced), while also throwing the movie Contagion into the equation.

This means that Wolbachia can spread while making sure the mosquito population stays low.

If you’re wondering about male mosquitoes bothering you, don’t worry. Male mosquitoes don’t bite. Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes also only live for an average of four days.

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Also, there may be more male mosquitoes seen but they will not attract female mosquitoes to your area.

But you’re probably still wondering the effectiveness.

90% Suppression Of Aedes Population In Yishun and Tampines

Mosquitoes have actually been released before in Yishun and Tampines, which not only resulted in greater suppression, there were also 65 to 80% fewer dengue cases at the study sites compared to sites without the mosquito release.

And so…

Expanding Project Wolbachia to Bukit Batok and Choa Chu Kang

Male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes will be released at 207 blocks in selected neighbourhoods at Choa Chu Kang, Keat Hong and Hong Kah North. They were selected cause of high Aedes aegypti mosquito populations.

The sites we’re talking about:

Image: NEA
Image: NEA
Image: NEA

Mosquitoes will be released by NEA researchers at public spaces like:

  • Stairwells
  • Void decks
  • Open spaces

Residents staying there don’t have to do anything different from normal. There will be an average of six or fewer male mosquitoes per person released regularly at these sites.

NEA hopes that this targeted release will help to test and determine the best approaches for future wider scale deployment for Project Wolbachia in Singapore

If you want to read more about Project Wolbachia, you can find out here.

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