New York: Ever heard of an "infected" mosquito? Yes, mosquitoes do get infected, new research reveals.
What is more interesting is that mosquitoes' infection can be used to tackle the spread of malaria.
Researchers have found the first evidence of an intercellular bacterial infection in natural populations of two species of Anopheles mosquitoes, the major vectors of malaria.
The infection, called Wolbachia, has been shown in labs to reduce the incidence of pathogen infections in mosquitoes and has the potential to be used in controlling malaria-transmitting mosquito populations.
"Wolbachia is an interesting bacterium that seems perfectly suited for mosquito control. However, there were strong doubts that it could ever be used against field Anopheles populations," said Flaminia Catteruccia of Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).
"We were thrilled when we identified infections in natural mosquito populations, as we knew this finding could generate novel opportunities for stopping the spread of malaria," Catteruccia added.
Anopheles mosquitoes are the deadliest animal on the planet.
They are responsible for transmitting malaria, which causes more than 600,000 deaths each year and puts half of the world's population at risk for diseases.
The study appeared online in the journal Nature Communications.