To prevent dengue fever, the city of Bandung is innovating using Wolbachia bacteria.

Aedes aegypti mosquito illustration / Pinterest
Aedes aegypti mosquito illustration / Pinterest

BANDUNG — Cases of DHF in Bandung City have decreased. According to the Health Service (Dinkes), 5205 cases of dengue fever were reported in the city of Bandung in 2022. Compared to January-July 2023, the number of cases of DHF decreased to 1281 cases.

From January to July, the trend is down from January to July, said Dr. In fact, compared to the same month in 2022, there are now fewer cases.

“Maybe it’s also because it’s summer and there is no standing water,” Ira said on Tuesday, August 29, 2023.

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Despite the fact that there are fewer cases, according to Ira,

To further suppress dengue cases, the Government of Bandung plans to introduce the innovative Wolbachia bacterium into the eggs of the Aedes aegypti mosquito starting in October this year. At first, this attempt will only be tested in the Ujungberung district.

Here’s how Wolbachia’s bacterial innovation helps reduce the incidence of dengue fever:

1. Ujungberung is included in the top 10 counties with the most dengue cases in Bandung city in 2022. The head of UPT, Puskesmas Ujungberung, also received Wolbachia innovation training in Yogyakarta.

“Support in the regional sectors is also good. Moreover, this is a pilot project, so there should be support from the community as well. Therefore, Uyungberung was chosen as a pilot project for Wolbachia,” he said.

Ira explained that the carrier of dengue fever is the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The mosquito contains the dengue virus, which causes dengue fever in humans.

2. Mechanism of this innovation: Aedes aegypti mosquito eggs are injected with Wolbachia bacteria, which then hatch into adult mosquitoes. If a mosquito bites a person infected with the dengue virus, the virus that the mosquito inhaled will die along with the Wolbachia bacteria. To prevent the Aedes aegypti mosquito from re-spreading the dengue virus into the human body.

“Don’t be afraid that the Wolbachia bacteria will enter the human body. The size of the bacteria is larger than the snout of a mosquito. So when a mosquito bites a person, the Wolbachia bacteria do not enter the body,” he said. .

3. During implementation in October, his team will put the eggs of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which was injected with the Wolbachia vaccine, into a bucket. It is hoped that these mosquitoes will replace the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which has the dengue virus.

These mosquitoes can then mate with local mosquitoes and produce other mosquitoes that automatically already contain the Wolbachia bacteria. Thus, the Aedes aegypti mosquito will no longer be able to carry the dengue virus.

“Eggs that have been injected with Wolbachia are produced in an entomological or insect lab. The city of Bandung received them from the Salatig Environmental Health Engineering Center (BBTKL),” he explained.

4. In general, Wolbachia is often found in everyday life. The bacteria are found in the body of fruit flies, small animals that usually like to fly on bananas or fruits.

“In this scheme, the Aedes aegypti mosquito will continue to exist for the sake of ecological balance. But now it contains Wolbachia bacteria, so it can stop the spread of the dengue virus,” Ira said.

The first city to introduce this innovation was Yogyakarta. Thanks to the research and introduction of Wolbachia in Yogyakarta, the number of cases of DHF could be reduced by up to 70 percent.

5. Bandung City is a DHF endemic area and the number of cases is quite high. Therefore, the Ministry of Health has decided if Bandung City will become one of the 5 pilot cities for the introduction of dengue prevention based on Wolbachia technology.

6. Despite this, Ira acknowledged that the introduction of Wolbachia does not replace all existing dengue prevention efforts. The previous steps will still be in progress, such as 3M (drain, close, and bury), fogging by indication, and the One Home, One Jumantic movement.

“This adds to the fact that, thanks to the efforts we have made so far, cases of dengue fever have not completely disappeared. Meanwhile, Wolbachia’s innovations have been proven in Yogyakarta,” he admits.

7. Initially, the problem of introducing this innovation was the location of buckets for mosquito eggs. Because there will definitely be a lot of mosquitoes in this place.

If people feel anxious, Ira says, you can kill mosquitoes by stroking them, using mosquito rackets or insect repellants. Provided that the mosquito eggs in the bucket are not thrown away until they hatch.

“We are just asking for help to leave the eggs in this bucket. Don’t touch the eggs until they all hatch and become adult mosquitoes,” he said.

8. In the future, 33,000 pails will be distributed throughout the city of Bandung. However, for its distribution, it is necessary to see the area and the number of inhabitants from aerial photographs and satellite maps. So the figure cannot be generalized for each region.

Ira said that this innovation is also aimed at reducing chemical exposure, which is not consistent with the indications. So it is safer for the environment, society, and also economically cheaper. Meanwhile, compared to fogging, it is more expensive than gasoline and drugs.

“If this can really be implemented evenly, there is hope that the number of cases will decrease as the dengue virus disappears. Then the nebula can also be reduced so that funds can be redirected to other more important things,” he said. Ira.

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