Big bug release loosens dengue's grip
Townsville currently has no dengue fever outbreaks - for the first time in 15 years.
The achievement comes a year after Monash University released 30,000 dengue-resistant mosquitoes.
Researchers say it is a good sign of success for the Eliminate Dengue project, which seeks to eliminate the mosquito-borne and potentially-deadly fever in the north Queensland city.
The new mosquitoes were infected with a dengue-resistant bacteria called Wolbachia, which is sexual transmitted amongst the bugs.
Thousands of Townsville residents volunteered to have buckets of dengue-resistant mosquitoes released into their backyards.
Dr Andrew Turley, a researcher and spokesperson for the trial, said the early results were “really encouraging”.
“Most mosquitoes are carrying the Wolbachia bacteria and in some areas, 80 per cent of them are now resistant to dengue fever,” he told the ABC.
“It's also the first time since 2000 that the city hasn't had an outbreak of dengue fever, during a 12-month period.”
Dr Steven Donohue from Townsville Hospital told reporters that it was “something that I never thought would happen”.
“It's marvellous, basically dengue mosquitoes are being evicted from Townsville,” he said.
“The number of dengue cases, even at this very early stage, have dropped dramatically.”
Researchers hope the work can be replicated in Asia and the Pacific region, where dengue fever claims thousands of lives every year.