The children in Brazil's Complexo da Maré area are helping to combat dengue fever by breeding mosquitoes.

Brazil's Complexo da Maré is an area vulnerable to outbreaks of dengue fever because of the densely packed houses in the area. The children in Brazil's Complexo da Maré are helping to combat dengue fever by breeding Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. These are the same mosquitoes that spread the disease, Positive News reported.

These mosquitoes are different and are infected with Wolbachia bacteria under a pioneering initiative from the World Mosquito Program (WMP).

Wolbachia bacteria cripples the insects’ ability to transmit blood-borne viruses like dengue, Zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Captive mosquitoes are released to breed with wild populations and the Wolbachia bacteria is spread.

Dengue infects almost 400 million people a year worldwide and kills tens of thousands of people. Brazil is the worst affected nation on the planet. Brazil's densely populated neighborhoods, often with poor sanitation, are particularly vulnerable to infectious disease.

Community engagement is seen as essential for the WMP’s ‘Wolbachia method’ to be successful. In Brazil, outreach for the ‘Wolbachia method’ into schools has been realized through the Wolbito na escola (Wolbito at school) program. The program trains educators to teach students how the Wolbachia method can be used to combat mosquito-borne diseases.

In Rio’s Complexo da Maré, which is a sprawl of 16 neighborhoods, home to around 130,000 people, children are rearing the Wolbachia-infected bugs in empty margarine tubs to combat mosquito-borne diseases.

“I think it should be replicated in other places, here in Brazil, Africa, anywhere in the world it works,” community representative Lucia Cabral, from Rio’s Complexo do Alemão neighborhood said after he witnessed the program’s success.

Since 2017, WMP has so far reached almost 2.5 million people in Brazil. In addition to this, it has protected 10 million people worldwide across 11 countries and three continents.

“This self-sustaining, safe, and cost-effective method gives communities long-term resilience against the multiple diseases transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito,” WMP epidemiologist and director of impact assessment Dr. Katie Anders said.