New Caledonia: Wolbachia program presents an exemplary record

In October 2020, the Wolbachia program was already showing particularly encouraging signs of success. Today, during a report presented publicly, the results are: a large majority of mosquitoes are carriers of Wolbachia bacteria and there have been no dengue epidemics since the start of the program.

The World Mosquito Program, which began in 2016, led to the first release of Aedes aegypti type mosquitoes, known as tiger mosquitoes, carriers of Wolbachia in 2018.
Since then, more than 12 million mosquitoes carrying the bacteria have been released in Noumea and its suburbs, where the program is conducting experiments.

The southern province is particularly satisfied, albeit angry: “It will still be necessary for some months to have the proportion of Wolbachia mosquitoes optimal in districts where mosquito densities are naturally high”.
In fact, the results are: by comparison, between 1,000 and 1,500 dengue cases were reported in 2018 and 2019, while only 52 cases were reported in 2021.

On the occasion of the public presentation of the report, Nadege Rossi, local project manager for the World Mosquito Program, was on the microphone of our colleagues at Caledonia.nc. “We have a network of clues that allow us to see that it works. We only had one outbreak in Noumea, which is very rare, but we still need time to really assess the situation.” ..
A breakthrough that now makes it possible to consider expanding the program outside of Noumea:
“We plan to expand into the most dense neighborhoods at first, in the municipalities of Dumbia and Mont-dor. We are in the process of signing agreements so the work with these municipalities is well advanced, therefore We hope to be able to start it at the end of the year..

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Based on this observation, Arnaud Canet, entomologist at the Department of Health and Social Affairs (DASS), plans to expand the program to the rest of the area: Obviously, we’re working on expanding to other municipalities in the region, the Northern Province, Loyalty Island … Very quickly, we can’t, so things will be done one after the other, but obviously with strategy. To allow as many municipalities as possible to deploy Wolbachia in the region in the coming years”.

Damien Challot

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