Each year, dengue fever infects as many as 100 million people while yellow fever is responsible for about 30,000 deaths worldwide. Both diseases are spread by infected female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which require vertebrate blood to produce eggs. The blood feeding and the egg development are tightly linked to how the mosquito transmits the disease-causing virus.
Now a team of entomologists at the University of California, Riverside has identified a microRNA (a short ribonucleic acid molecule) in female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that when deactivated disrupts the mosquito's blood digestion and egg development — a discovery that could help control the spread of not only dengue and yellow fever but potentially all vector-borne diseases.
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