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USDA, Brazil Team up to Fight Dengue VirusBy Sean Adams
February 29, 2000
WASHINGTON, Feb. 29--The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Brazilian government officials today signed an agreement to conduct a joint research project to biologically control the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits Dengue virus.Our USDA scientists are among the foremost experts in the world in controlling the mosquito that transmits this disease, said Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics I. Miley Gonzalez, who signed the agreement today. We are hopeful that we can suppress this disease and improve the health of people in more than 100 countries where this disease is now endemic.
Dengue, transmitted primarily by the yellow fever mosquito A. aegypti, causes a severe, flu-like illness.The disease has spread around the world in recent years, reaching epidemic proportions in Brazil and other parts of the world, according to the World Health Organization. WHO estimates there may be 50 million cases of dengue worldwide each year. The mosquito has been largely eliminated from the United States, now confined to the southernmost areas of Florida and Texas.
Under the agreement, the scientists will use a biological control agent called Edhazardia aedis, a microsporidium developed by USDA scientists at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, in Gainesville, Fla. CMAVE is part of the Agricultural Research Service, USDA's chief scientific agency.
In the mid 1990s, small-scale field trials using E. aedis in the United States were successful at controlling A. aegypti mosquitoes in Florida, according to Donald Barnard, who heads the Mosquito and Fly Research Unit at CMAVE. Researchers are planning larger-scale trials in Brazil later this year and then large-scale releases of the organism to control the mosquito.
The Brazilian Minister of Health, José Serra, and the Brazilian Ambassador, Rubens Barbosa, joined Gonzalez for todays signing.