Project Wolbachia now covers 1 million residents, NEA to ramp up mosquito production in next few years

The project has seen the Aedes aegypti mosquito population suppressed by over 90 per cent in four sites.

Dini Qistina Binte Ali

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Published: 9 May 2023, 3:02 PM

Over one million residents in Singapore have benefited from Project Wolbachia, said the National Environment Agency (NEA).

The project has covered 30 per cent of public high-rise residential blocks and 9 per cent of landed private homes across 13 sites.

Among them are Tampines, Yishun, Choa Chu Kang, and Bukit Batok, which were reported to have a decrease in the dengue mosquito population by 90 per cent as compared to areas without releases.

A survey also found that 96 per cent of the residents in these areas expressed support for the project.

Launched in 2016, Project Wolbachia is a multi-site field study conducted to understand the impact of technology on dengue transmission in different local environments.

Male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes are released in various sites to mate with female urban Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and produce eggs that do not hatch, thus reducing dengue rates.

Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Development, said that NEA plans to expand the release of male Aedes mosquitoes to more areas in the coming years.

The risk of dengue transmission still remains high, with weekly dengue cases remaining above 100 since the start of 2023.

In the last three years, Singapore experienced two large outbreaks – in 2020 with more than 35,000 cases and 32 deaths, and in 2022 with over 32,000 cases and 19 deaths.

The previously less common dengue virus serotype 3 (DENV-3) emerged as the most prevalent serotype in late 2021, and drove Singapore’s dengue outbreak in 2022.

It continues to be the most prevalent serotype today, and has been detected in large clusters across the island.

Community exposure and hence immunity to DENV-3 remains low, despite this serotype being the main driver of last year’s dengue outbreak.

Warmer months from May to October usually see higher dengue transmission in Singapore due to faster development of the Aedes mosquito vector and multiplication of the dengue virus in mosquitoes.

NEA urges residents to remain vigilant and protect themselves from dengue by removing stagnant water in their homes and wearing more long-sleeved clothing.

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