21 Dec 2018

First drone used to fight dengue in Fiji

10:45 am on 21 December 2018

The fight against dengue in the Pacific has gone aerial with a drone being used to release bacteria-carrying mosquitoes in Fiji.

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Photo: eeandrey/123RF

As part of recent-trials, the drone dropped mosquitoes infected with the wolbachia bacteria over Suva.

Mosquitos infected with the bacteria are unable to spread diseases like dengue and chikungunya.

The World Mosquito Programme's project coordinator, Aminiasi Tavui, said drones had the potential to disperse Wolbachia across wide areas.

"As soon as the drone reaches that site, the mosquitoes are released from above. So they basically meet with the wild ones and then the bacteria passes on to their offspring."

Aminiasi Tavui said the trial was still in its early stages but could help millions of people around the world.

A separate trial using drones to deliver vaccines is also underway in Vanuatu.

Earlier trials, where the bacteria was released at ground-level, have shown success in parts of Fiji, Kiribati and Vanuatu.

Wolbachia are naturally occurring bacteria found in 60 percent of insects and are safe for humans, animals and the environment, Mr Tavui said.

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