Saturday, 18 May 2013

Malaria parasite lures mosquito to human odour

By Rebecca Morelle, Science reporter, BBC World Service

Mosquitoes carrying the malaria parasite are more attracted to human body odour than uninfected insects, a study suggests.

Researchers found that infected insects were three times more likely to be lured towards a human scent.

They believe that the deadly parasites are seizing control of their biting hosts and boosting their sense of smell.

Dr James Logan, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), said: "One thing that always surprises me about parasites is how clever they are. They are these ever-evolving organisms that seem to be one step ahead of us the whole time."

Smelly feet

To carry out the study, the researchers infected malaria mosquitoes (Anopheles gambiae) with the most deadly form of parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.

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