Mosquitoes are more attracted to individuals infected with malaria

August 08, 2005

Malaria remains a devastating problem in Africa and understanding the factors affecting its transmission remains a crucial part of the effort to combat the disease. A new study published in the premier open access journal PLoS Biology conducted in Western Kenya by Jacob Koella and colleagues now reveals that mosquitoes are more attracted to children with the infectious stages of malaria than to those infected with non-transmissible forms of the disease or to uninfected people.

The question of whether malaria increases your chances of being bitten by a mosquito has long stalled scientists because of numerous confounding factors. Sweat, breath odour, and high body temperature all increase mosquitoes¡¦ blood lust, and no previous study had been able to isolate the effect of just the parasite. To measure how attracted the mosquitoes were to the participants, the researchers set up a chamber of uninfected female mosquitoes surrounded by tents containing the children - one already infected with transmissible malaria, one infected with the non-transmissible asexual stage of the disease, and one with no infection. A device called an olfactometer wafted the odours of each participant towards the mosquitoes. Researchers measured which child most attracted the hungry bugs. Koella et al. found that individuals attracted significantly more mosquitoes if they had the infectious stage of the malaria parasite. Moreover, when the children were treated with antimalarial drugs, there was no difference in the subsequent attractiveness of the participants.

It is already known that mosquito biting rates greatly influence the spread of malaria. Now Koella and colleagues have shown that the parasite itself manipulates the biting behaviour of the mosquito vector when it is ready for a new host. Such manipulation could have a profound effect on the epidemiology of disease and, if it is not considered, could lead to severe biases in the estimates of the intensity of malaria transmission.
-end-
Citation: Lacroix R, Mukabana WR, Gouagna LC, Koella JC (2005) Malaria infection increases attractiveness of humans to mosquitoes. PLoS Biol 3(9): e298.

CONTACT: Jacob Koella
Université P. & M. Curie
Laboratoire de Parasitologie Evolutive
7 quai St. Bernard, CC237
Paris, France 75252
+33-1-4427-3809
+33-1-4427-3516 (fax)
jkoella@gmail.com

PLEASE MENTION PLoS Biology (www.plosbiology.org) AS THE SOURCE FOR THESE ARTICLES. THANK YOU.

All works published in PLoS Biology are open access. Everything is immediately available without cost to anyone, anywhere--to read, download, redistribute, include in databases, and otherwise use--subject only to the condition that the original authorship and source are properly attributed. Copyright is retained by the authors. The Public Library of Science uses the Creative Commons Attribution License.

PLOS

Related Malaria Articles from Brightsurf:

Clocking in with malaria parasites
Discovery of a malaria parasite's internal clock could lead to new treatment strategies.

Breakthrough in malaria research
An international scientific consortium led by the cell biologists Volker Heussler from the University of Bern and Oliver Billker from the UmeƄ University in Sweden has for the first time systematically investigated the genome of the malaria parasite Plasmodium throughout its life cycle in a large-scale experiment.

Scientists close in on malaria vaccine
Scientists have taken another big step forward towards developing a vaccine that's effective against the most severe forms of malaria.

New tool in fight against malaria
Modifying a class of molecules originally developed to treat the skin disease psoriasis could lead to a new malaria drug that is effective against malaria parasites resistant to currently available drugs.

Malaria expert warns of need for malaria drug to treat severe cases in US
The US each year sees more than 1,500 cases of malaria, and currently there is limited access to an intravenously administered (IV) drug needed for the more serious cases.

Monkey malaria breakthrough offers cure for relapsing malaria
A breakthrough in monkey malaria research by two University of Otago scientists could help scientists diagnose and treat a relapsing form of human malaria.

Getting to zero malaria cases in zanzibar
New research led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, Ifakara Health Institute and the Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Program suggests that a better understanding of human behavior at night -- when malaria mosquitoes are biting -- could be key to preventing lingering cases.

Widely used malaria treatment to prevent malaria in pregnant women
A global team of researchers, led by a research team at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), are calling for a review of drug-based strategies used to prevent malaria infections in pregnant women, in areas where there is widespread resistance to existing antimalarial medicines.

Protection against Malaria: A matter of balance
A balanced production of pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines at two years of age protects against clinical malaria in early childhood, according to a study led by ISGlobal, an institution supported by ''la Caixa'' Foundation.

The math of malaria
A new mathematical model for malaria shows how competition between parasite strains within a human host reduces the odds of drug resistance developing in a high-transmission setting.

Read More: Malaria News and Malaria Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.