Captive-bred mosquitoes carrying a naturally occurring bacteria were released in the city of Townsville, Australia where they mated with local mosquitoes.
The bacteria, Wolbachia, hinders dengue transmission as a result, the city has been dengue-free since 2014.
The researchers from Monash University also believe that their work could stop mosquito-borne diseases Zika and malaria.
“Nothing is slowing these diseases down – they are getting worse. What we have now is going to have a significant impact and I think this study is the first indication that its looking promising,” said Scott O’Neill, Director of the World Mosquito Programme.
Over four monsoon seasons, researchers released the Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes across 66km sq (25sq miles) in the Queensland tropical town with a population of 187,000.
The community readily embraced the project with even school children releasing the special mosquitoes.
“At a cost of around A$15 per person, the Townsville trial demonstrates that this solution can be rolled out quickly, efficiently and cost effectively to help provide communities protection from mosquito-borne diseases,” Professor O’Neill said.
The programme is currently working in 11 countries and aims to deploy the Wolbachia mosquitoes in larger and poorer parts around the world with a target of reducing the cost to just USD1 per person.