Fish to help keep Commonwealth Games fever-free

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Authorities in New Delhi have turned to fish to help combat dengue fever in the city on the eve of the 19th Commonwealth Games.

The recent outbreak of the disease has killed three and hospitalised over 800, with many more unreported cases thought to exist.

With the games just over a month away, and 8,000 competitors due in the city, the organisers have turned to mosquito fish, Gambusia affinis, to control mosquito larvae in a pond built in the games village.

The Delhi health department has carried out extensive chemical spraying in and around the city and games venues, but the organisers have decided to add the fish as a supplementary measure.

Mosquito fish are members of the Poeciliidae family and are livebearers.

They are native to the watershed of the Gulf of Mexico and are incredibly tough and adaptable, being able to withstand huge variations in temperature and salinity.

As a result they have been used in many areas around the world as a bio-control for mosquitoes but have often ended up causing considerable damage due to their hardiness and ability to out compete native fish populations.

Dengue fever, also known as break bone fever is a viral disease spread by mosquitoes for which there is no vaccine. Symptoms include headache, vomiting and muscle and joint pain as well as haemorrhaging.