Wrong strategy could worsen dengue epidemics: study

PARIS, 2011 (AFP) – The wrong approach to wiping out the mosquitoes that cause dengue infections could lead to worse epidemics in the future, according to a study released Tuesday. Targeting only mosquito larvae, and not adults, with insecticides may work in the short run, but could result in higher resistance in the insects and less disease immunity among humans, especially in urban settings, the study found.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne infection that causes severe, flu-like symptoms in some 50 million people every year, mainly in developing countries.

Global incidence of the disease, which is rarely fatal but often debilitating, has risen dramatically in recent decades, linked to both rapid urbanisation and the impact of global warming. Some 2.5 billion people are at risk.

There is no treatment, cure or vaccine — the only way to control the disease is to kill the mosquitoes that carry it, especially one species: Aedes aegypti.

But which insecticides work best, how frequently they should be applied and whether it is more effective to target mosquitoes in their larval or adult stage are still debated among experts. Researchers led by Paula Luz of the Oswaldo Cruz