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Australian scientists discover unique way to prevent dengue fever | Updated: 2015-04-07 10:30

A team of Australian researchers have come up with a unique way of preventing the spread of the dengue virus, a mosquito-borne disease that currently has no approved vaccine.

Dengue fever, a viral infection found throughout 110 countries, is spread between humans and mosquitoes in tropical climates, causing flu-like symptoms such as headaches and joint pain.

It is a widespread public health problem in Asia and Latin America, with research estimates suggesting there are more than 100 million cases diagnosed globally every year.

The University of Melbourne-led team discovered that mosquitoes, after being exposed to an insect bacterium called Wolbachia, were unable to acquire the dengue virus from infected humans.

Prof. Cameron Simmons, from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne and the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, said on Wednesday that the discovery could mean a drastic reduction in the cases of dengue.

"We did a 'real world' experiment and allowed mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia and uninfected mosquitoes to feed on the blood of Vietnamese dengue patients," Simmons said.

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