How to End Dengue? Vaccinate Mosquitoes!

“How bad is Dengue?” in 5 minutes.

Gil Pires
Microbial Instincts


Photo of Medellín, Colombia, by Kobby Mendez on Unsplash (2019).

Dengue cases dropped by 95% in Colombia’s Aburrá Valley to an all-time low in twenty years, after scientists released mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria in three cities.

Colombia has been a hotspot for dengue fever for years now. In 2023 alone, the country reported over 131 thousand suspected cases, and the highest number of severe cases in the Americas. Making it a perfect place to test new ways to fight this crippling sickness.

Dengue fever is a viral vector-borne infection transmitted by mosquitoes, primarily of the species Aedes aegypti. Its most common symptom, as the name implies, is high fever — with temperatures up to 40ºC (104ºF). This is typically accompanied by skin rashes and flu-like symptoms, lasting between a couple of days to a full week.

For the majority of people, infection is either asymptomatic or causes mild sub-clinical symptoms, which can be self-managed. However, one in 20 patients develop severe dengue — a life-threatening condition.

Warning signs of severe dengue manifest three to seven days after symptoms onset when the patient’s fever begins to drop (defervescence). These include severe abdominal pain along with persistent vomiting, rapid breathing, and bleeding gums. Doctors call…