An investigation of drivers of dengue virus transmission and the potential for Wolbachia-based transmission blocking in Kenya

Year of award: 2022


  • Dr Sheila Agha

    International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology

Project summary

Mombasa city is the epicentre of recurrent outbreaks of dengue in Kenya, a disease transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti that exists as domestic and forest forms (subspecies) in much of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The increasing burden occurs against a backdrop of a lack of any control measures. Larval breeding habitats known to include diverse artificial and natural habitats could be targeted for control; however, this will be facilitated through improved understanding of the contribution of individual habitats on the vectorial capacity of adult populations defining dengue virus (DENV) transmission risk. This study aims to elucidate the effect of individual breeding habitats on the seasonal dynamics of Ae. aegypti populations, including subspecies composition; analyze the influence of specific habitats on emerged adult vector competence for DENV, fitness, microbiota composition and genetics. Further, potential differences in the DENV interference phenotype of a characterized Wolbachia strain among the subspecies will be tested. A suite of approaches will be employed, including genetics, metagenomics, vector competence, microbiology and microscopy. Results from this study will identify ecological and genetic predictors of local variation in dengue risk to guide targeted vector control and the use of the novel Wolbachia dengue control approach in Kenya and SSA at large.