The Gulf Today - Panorama - - Have You Heard? -

Chil­dren in­fected with malaria pro­duce a scent which at­tracts mos­qui­toes and could be a new tar­get for ef­forts to con­trol the spread of the par­a­site which kills half a mil­lion peo­ple a year, a study has found. UK re­searchers at­tached elec­trodes to the mos­qui­toes’ an­ten­nae — the equiv­a­lent of their nose — to mea­sure their in­ter­est in a range of foot odour sam­ples from chil­dren. They found the sam­ples that piqued the most mos­quito in­ter­est, and were there­fore most likely to draw a bite, were from the chil­dren with malaria.

To un­der­stand this dif­fer­ence the team an­a­lysed the chem­i­cal make-up of all 117 odour sam­ples and found the malaria group were par­tic­u­larly high in a group of chem­i­cals com­pounds called alde­hy­des. Sig­nif­i­cantly, the chil­dren who had the high­est lev­els of the malaria-caus­ing plas­mod­ium par­a­site had par­tic­u­larly high lev­els of the key alde­hyde com­pounds in their sweat.

“This is the first time that the skin odour of peo­ple nat­u­rally in­fected with malaria has been stud­ied,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Ailie Robin­son, from the Lon­don School of Hy­giene & Trop­i­cal Medicine (LSHTM).

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