17 Feb 2005

Australian researcher says dengue fever combatant could help Pacific

4:10 pm on 17 February 2005

Australian scientists say a new method could help to stop the spread of dengue fever.

Research from a four-year study in Vietnam and published in the medical journal, The Lancet, suggests mosquitoes that carry dengue can be eliminated by placing a predator bug in water tanks.

The Queensland Institute of Medical Research scientist, Dr Tessa Knox, says the Pacific stands to benefit from the success of the programme.

"It is possible, yes, that this will be useful in the Pacific region; it will be needed to be used as part of an integrated approach though, and one of the main focusses is on community participation, which was one of the strengths in the Vietnamese approach to dengue control."

Doctor Knox says the bug eats the dengue larvae, and it eradicated the disease from 42 of 46 communes in Vietnam, with the help of health volunteers, schools and the public.