Malaria changes the smell of patients, making them “more attractive” to mosquitoes

According to a new study, children with malaria produce a special smell that helps attract mosquitoes. Malaria parasites have changed the natural smell of the sick and made them more attractive to mosquitoes.

To answer the question of whether people with malaria have a particular smell, the scientists verified by collecting socks from 56 Kenyan children in a first study conducted on the smell of a feverish person. cold.

The group introduced the Anopheles gambiae mosquito (a major mosquito in Africa) the main culprit in transmission of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa into a wind tunnel and they smelled of socks.

In the first experiment with malaria-infected children’s socks – they found that most mosquitoes are attracted to their smells without distinguishing the amount of malaria parasites in their blood.

The more malaria parasites in the blood, the stronger the smell of patients with mosquitoes.

Researchers of many units include: London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Wageningen University Institute – Netherlands, Rothamsted Research Center – England The International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology – Kenya and Cardiff University – He collaborated to carry out this study and the article was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Anopheles gambiae mosquito

Professor James Logan, principal researcher, head of the Disease Control Department at the University of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and Epidemiology London, replied in Newsweek:

“Our research object is children but the next step is to see if this is true in adults. Their hypothesis is that the results will be similar.”

They hope that compounds related to the presence of malaria parasites in the blood can be used as biological indicators of the disease.

“The demand for new non-invasive diagnostics is huge,” said Professor Logan. Using odor to detect the presence of malaria parasites may be a new method. in diagnosis for people with malaria parasites even if they do not feel sick and do not need to see a doctor “.

The method can be applied on a device like a smart watch – can detect parasites in sweat wearers and warn of parasitic infection immediately, Professor Logan said. .

Professor John Pickett, Faculty of Chemistry at Cardiff University, co-author of the study, said the discovery could be used to create odor traps to lure mosquitoes and trick them away from residential areas.

“This idea has been implemented in disease control on agricultural crops.”

Research has been published in the context of the fight against malaria in recent years. According to the World Health Organization’s report on the global malaria situation in 2017, “only nearly half of countries with malaria problems can achieve the goal of reducing the number of cases and deaths due to malaria.

In 2016, there were 261 million cases of malaria globally, an increase of 5 million compared to 2015.

Jetske de Boer of Wageningen University said that the main object of malaria transmission is that the mosquitoes live in the house and they have been treated by many measures including measures to sleep with a chemical treatment screen.

However, non-targeted natural mosquitoes are in the same scope. The status of resistant chemical and parasitic mosquitoes is increasing in many places and another important problem is the lack of investment budget for new studies on malaria as well as malaria prevention program.

Dr. Lauren Cator, life science lecturer and member of the Malaria Specialist Network at Imperial University, London, England – who did not participate in the study, said: “For many years, the Science has suspected that malaria parasites can alter the smell of carriers, making them more susceptible to mosquito bites “.

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