Eliminate Dengue

This project completed in July 2017.

The Eliminate Dengue project (now known as the World Mosquito Program) is a continuation of research initiated under the FNIH’s Vector-based Control of Transmission: Discovery Research (VCTR) program, which is an extension of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. Dengue is a disabling and sometimes deadly viral infection that causes high fever, intense muscle pain and bleeding. It is carried by a specific type of mosquito, and poses a serious public health risk to more than 40 percent of the world’s population. The Eliminate Dengue project aims to develop a self-sustaining biocontrol method to stop transmission of dengue virus by mosquitoes. The research uses a common bacterium, Wolbachia, to inhibit replication of the dengue virus in mosquitoes thus interrupting the transmission of dengue virus to humans. The Eliminate Dengue program responds to a global need for innovative approaches to prevent dengue transmission that are safe, easily deployed, effective and sustainable, to improve the health and well-being of the 2.5 billion people at risk of this infection.

Read about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Neglected Infectious Diseases Strategy here.


  • Develop strategy for scale-up delivery of wMel-infected mosquitoes under different ecological conditions.
  • Collect data on viral inhibition from established field sites to understand the longevity of the effect and any potential for resistance.
  • Plan efficacy trials to test for reduction in dengue infection under different transmission conditions.

Results & Accomplishments

In early 2016, the team discovered that the presence of Wolbachia bacteria in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes also inhibits replication of the Zika virus, in addition to dengue and chikungunya viruses. Since then, the World Health Organization (WHO) held an emergency session of the Vector Control Advisory Committee on developing a response to the Zika epidemic. At the session, WHO recommended that the Eliminate Dengue program proceed with pilot deployment of its Wolbachia strategy to build capacity to support operational use.

The project team is conducting pilot deployment activities at multiple sites.

Scientific Publications:

Modeling the impact on virus transmission of Wolbachia-mediated blocking of dengue virus infection of Aedes aegypti. Ferguson, NM et al. 2015 Sci. Transl. Med. 7, 279ra37

Wolbachia reduces the transmission potential of dengue-infected Aedes aegypti. Ye, YH et al. 2015 PLoS Negl Trop Dis 9(6): e0003894.

The wMel strain of Wolbachia Reduces Transmission of Zika virus by Aedes aegypti. Aliota, M T et al. 2016 Sci. Rep. 6, 28792; doi: 10.1038/srep28792.


Forbes (May 2016): Smart Science Confirms Wolbachia's Value In Fighting Zika As Well As Dengue

CNN (March 2016): Stopping Zika: Attacking mosquitoes from within

Voice of America (February 2016): Infected Mosquitoes Enlisted to Stop Zika, Other Diseases

Forbes (February 2016): Smart Science: Wolbachia Bacteria Might Stop Zika and Dengue Viruses

Gates Notes: The Deadliest Animal in the World


Private-Sector Partners:
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation*

Academic Partners:
Monash University

*Provided financial or in-kind support for this program.


FNIH Contact

Stephanie James, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Science, sjames@fnih.org