Malaria lures mosquitoes to people

In patients with malaria in perspiration appear odorous substances, attracting mosquitoes to them.

Malaria lures mosquitoes to people
The Anopheles mosquito. (Photo: Once upon a time /

Malaria parasites are known to live on two houses – in the sense that different stages of the life cycle they are in the mosquito and in some spinal: someone is a rodent, someone has a bird that someone has a reptile someone.

The choice is quite logical: while the mosquito sucks the blood of an animal malaria parasites can go wherever he at the moment need. To relocation there were no delays, Plasmodium even change the smell of the animals, making it more enticing for mosquitoes. It is also known that people sick with malaria are more attractive to bloodsuckers. It is obvious that parasites also vary and smell of a man, and in a recent article in PNAS describes how they do it.

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Researchers from The London school of hygiene and tropical diseases together with colleagues from other European and African research centres compared the composition of sweat from dozens of Kenyan schoolchildren, among whom were both healthy and newly infected with malaria.

Baby socks were placed in two special box connected by tubes, after which the device was launched malarial mosquitoes. Insects flew mostly to the socks of those children who had malaria parasite. After a three-week course of treatment to the clothes of the sick students were flying only 60% of mosquitoes – obviously, the fewer the parasites were in the man, the less he was interested in bloodsuckers. In General, the results of the experiment with clothes once again confirmed that malaria makes us more attractive to mosquitoes.

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Then researchers started finding out exactly what substances attract insects to us. For this purpose, the samples of sweat were first analyzed on the subject of chemical composition, and then each of the substances that are found in it, they gave to mosquitoes. “Try” here means that the antenna of mosquitoes was Abduvali air containing the odorous component or the other, while reading with the help of special electrodes neural signals which the antenna of mosquitoes sent to the brain.

The result was able to identify several compounds that are particularly strongly excited insects and which were especially numerous in the sweat of patients. Among them was gatenby, octane and nonane aldehydes used in perfumery due to its smell (for example, gatenby aldehyde gives a clove aroma, and nonane – orange or pink). Obviously, a mixture of the particularly strong attraction of mosquitoes, and human plasmodia in the course of evolution attacked the same on the right recipe.

It is curious that mosquitoes reacted differently to strengthen the smell: if the number heptenophos aldehyde in the mixture increased dramatically, insects flew to the smell much more if the same amount of aldehyde is increased gradually, the mosquitoes remained indifferent.

However, while it is unknown exactly what makes the parasite so we smelled so nice. Maybe all those aldehydes the Plasmodium synthesizes, and it is also possible that patients with malaria are activated by some chemical reaction, causing odorous aldehydes is much more than usual.

It is possible that other parasites can use the same toilet trick and with the same substances attracting insects that will help them to settle in to a new home. Anyway, the new data certainly can be useful in the fight against malaria: this smell can distract mosquitoes, that they did not drink the blood of the sick and not spread the disease further; and you can act on themselves by mosquitoes, making them immune to malaria aroma.


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