Malaria Carrying Mosquitoes Attracted to Human Body Odor

May 16 2013, 5:16am CDT | by , in News | Misc

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Malaria Carrying Mosquitoes Attracted to Human Body Odor

Research points to new clues in the battle against Malaria. Mosquitoes that carry the disease have been found to be attracted to body odor exuded by human beings. In other words if your feet smell you are more likely to be bitten by a Malaria-carrying bug than if you happen to be squeaky clean.

Scientists may be on to something here. The real reason behind malarial mosquitoes biting human victims may be the foul body odor the human subjects emit. An experiment was carried out in which socks which had been worn for a long time were placed in a container and then malaria-carrying mosquitoes were released into it. Upon careful observation it was discovered that most of the vector-carrying mosquitoes landed on the stinky socks as if by cue.

According to the Los Angeles Times, it seems that this attraction to human body odors is what prompts the mosquitoes to bite in the first place. There is talk of how the malaria-causing agent inside the mosquitoes is using this cue to force the bugs to sting. The infection-carrying mosquitoes were over three times more attracted to human scent. The malarial parasite boosts the sense of smell in the mosquitoes and so they hone in on the prey which in this case is human beings.

Scientists and researchers are facing the mindboggling ways of Nature here. It seems no matter what measures they take in the eradication and elimination of disease, the enemy is always one step ahead. The basic experiment that was carried out proved once and for all the dictum that infected hosts landed on the smelly socks while those mosquitoes that were free from disease didn’t do so. Here was conclusive evidence if any is needed that the parasite was using the transmitter to reach its human victims. And the olfactory sense was paramount in this quest for hosts to multiply in. Malaria infects millions every year and takes hundreds of thousands of lives too. The sooner it is gotten rid of the better it would be for the health status of humanity.

The basic disease comes from two Latin words: “mala” and “aria” which mean “bad” and “air”. It was thought in ancient times that there was something bad in the air surrounding swamps and puddles that caused the deadly disease. Only later on was it found out that it was actually mosquitoes that bred in those dirt-infested pools of water that caused malaria. But by then the disease had virtually wiped out the entire Roman Empire. Today despite having been minimized in the developed world, it is still rampant in third world countries like those of Africa, Asia and South America. Scientists think this discovery may be a part of the jigsaw puzzle that when completed will dispose of malaria forever from the face of the earth.

Image Credit: Getty Images

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