1. When and where are you releasing mosquitoes in Colombia?
With community support and government approval, we began releasing mosquitoes with Wolbachia in May 2015 in the neighbourhood of Paris, in the Bello municipality of Antioquia. Results of this field trial have been very encouraging and the project has now expanded its activities to include the areas of Los Sauces, Maruchenga and Nueva Jerusalén.
In 2017, the project will scale up its activities even further to include new parts of Antioquia, targeting an area with more than 2 million residents. The deployment of Wolbachia will be accompanied by robust evaluation to measure the impact of Wolbachia on mosquito-borne disease. Our aim is to establish high levels of Wolbachia in the local mosquito population – if we can do this, we expect to see a reduction in reported cases of dengue, Zika, and chikungunya.
2. Do residents support you releasing these mosquitoes?
We are grateful to local residents living in our project areas, who have shown strong support for our activities. In our very first field trial in Paris, Bello, more than 5000 families consented to weekly releases of mosquitoes near their homes.
Our local team continues to work closely with communities in Antioquia to provide information about our research and respond to questions or concerns. Mosquitoes with Wolbachia are only released with the awareness and support of local residents.
3. Do you have regulatory approval to release mosquitoes?
Several health and environmental authorities have given their endorsement for the release of Wolbachia mosquitoes, including:
- Guarantee from Bioethics Committee of University Research
- Guarantee from Pesticides Committee of Antioquia
- Endorsement from Health Department Bello
- Collateral Sectional Health Directorate Antioquia
- Endorsement from Ministry of Environment Department
- Favorable Technical concept from NHS
Releases of Wolbachia mosquitoes only proceed with the relevant regulatory approval.
4. Who is involved in Eliminate Dengue Colombia?
The Eliminate Dengue program is partnering with the Program for the Study and Control of Tropical Diseases (PECET) through the Universidad de Antioquia, to bring the Wolbachia dengue control method to Colombia.
Eliminate Dengue Colombia is led by Dr Iván Darío Vélez, supported by Dr Jorge E. Osorio. The project is building on existing research that PECET has undertaken in the city of Medellín to study the burden of dengue (sponsored by the Dengue Vaccine Initiative) in collaboration with the Municipal Secretary of Health Office in Medellín.