Why Some People are Prone to Mosquito Bites

From Telegraph.

Scientists have worked out why mosquitoes make a beeline for certain people but appear to leave others almost untouched.

Specific cells in one of the three organs that make up the mosquito’s nose are tuned to identify the different chemicals that make up human body odour.

To the mosquito some people’s sweat simply smells better than others because of the proportions of the carbon dioxide, octenol and other compounds that make up body odour.

The researchers believe the discovery of the way the mosquito smells will lead to the development of a new generation of repellents that would block mosquitoes’ nose - preventing them finding humans prey - within five to 10 years.

While helping those people who always seem to get bitten and people with allergic reactions to bites, such substances could also save millions of lives in the fight against malaria, most prevalent life-threatening disease in the world.

Mosquitoes use three organs to smell and taste – a feathery antenna which can identify a wide range of different chemicals, a proboscis used for short-range detection and the maxillary palp for longer range smelling.

Malaria infects some 650 million people per year worldwide and kills between one and three million, mostly young children in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The work is part of a large international collaboration led by the US National Institutes of Health aimed at developing a chemical strategy to combat the spread of malaria in the developing world.


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