This Week in NTDs

What are the thirty ways to live longer? Well, the Telegraph publishes an article this week answering this question. Most of the suggestions are closely linked to the spread of NTD infection. Most critically, at 21, “say no to sandflies” discusses the prevalence of Leishmaniasis and the dangers it proposes.

EndtheNeglect reports on the reemergence of Schistosomiasis in China. They reflect on the reasons for the disease’s return and key issues that need to be considered before action can be taken this time around.

An ex-malaria eradication worker discusses how to combat dengue. This interesting article looks at dengue fever’s spread and how this is key to organising eradication campaigns. Apparently  measures must be taken quickly before outbreaks result in “non-availability of agricultural and industrial labour, crippling the country and ruining its economy”.

Reports from a symposium at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (which started on Monday 14th October) have suggested that a dengue vaccine under development at the moment should be ready in six years time.

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GM mosquitoes to fight dengue

They transmit disease to more than 700 million people and account for least 2 million deaths annually. The control of mosquitoes just got personal.

Mosquitoes have been responsible for more deaths worldwide than any other animal. They are the sole carriers of malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, elephantiasis (lymphatic filiriasis) and chikungunya. There is no vaccine for any of these diseases.

For any disease, prevention is preferable to treatment. Vaccines for dengue and malaria are being developed but could be many years away. Effective mosquito control would decrease the burden of disease significantly and scientists have made huge advances in recent years.

Studies from Oxitec Ltd., a biotech company from Oxfordshire, have focussed on controlling the mosquito populations by genetically modifying the insects. Tactics to protect people in endemic areas include stopping mosquito bites using insecticides, net and repellents, developing preventative drugs and eradicating insects.

Diagram of how GM mosquitoes work

Breaking the cycle: how the process of releasing GM mosquitoes works

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