16 May 2013

Malaria mozzies attracted to human odour

Malaria infected mosquitoes more attracted to human odour than uninfected mosquitoes.


Mosquitoes infected with the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum are significantly more attracted to human odours than uninfected mosquitoes, according to research published in the open access journal PLOS ONE by James Logan and colleagues from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK.

The authors investigated the response of mosquitoes infected with P. falciparum malaria parasites and uninfected to human odour collected on a fabric matrix. Mosquitoes that were infected with the parasites landed and probed significantly more than uninfected mosquitoes in response to the odour.

Previous research has already shown that the malarial parasite can alter mosquito behaviour in ways that increase the rate of malaria transmission.

For example, malaria-infected mosquitoes also consume larger, more frequent blood meals than their uninfected counterparts. For the first time this study reports that, "malaria-infectious females are more attracted to human odours than uninfected mosquitoes".

According to the researchers, studies of mosquito behaviour in the context of malaria transmission usually use uninfected mosquito subjects, and their study suggests that such behavioural studies may not always be representative of the behaviour of infected mosquitoes. They conclude that understanding the olfactory changes underlying the behaviour of these infected mosquitoes may help identify new compounds that could be used to develop mosquito traps for surveillance programmes.


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.