Study: Malaria-infected mosquitoes more attracted to human odor
The mosquito of the Anopheles gambiae type transmits malaria.
May 15th, 2013
05:02 PM ET

Study: Malaria-infected mosquitoes more attracted to human odor

We think of malaria as a disease that infects more than 200 million people a year, with transmission happening through mosquito bites.

But it's not entirely the fault of the mosquitoes. Scientists are exploring how the malaria parasite itself may actually change a mosquito's behavior to make it more attracted to humans, as if controlling its mind so that the bug goes after us.

A new study in the journal PLOS One demonstrates, for the first time, that mosquitoes infected with malaria are more attracted to human odor than uninfected mosquitoes. This is only a proof of concept, however; more research needs to be done to confirm.

“What we've shown is malaria parasites can manipulate the mosquito's behavior to make it sense our body odor much more easily, and that means they’re much more likely to find us," said Dr. James Logan of the Department of Disease Control at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, senior author of the study.


Researchers used 59 malaria-infected mosquitoes and 97 mosquitoes that were not infected. (Only female mosquitoes transmit the parasite.)

A male volunteer wore nylon socks for 20 hours to collect human odor on the material. Scientists then examined how mosquitoes responded to a human-smelling sock compared with a standard nylon sock without a human odor.


Both groups of mosquitoes were generally uninterested in the sock without the human odor. But mosquitoes with malaria paid a lot more attention to the human-smelling sock, landing on it and probing it more than the non-infected mosquitoes.

This represents the first time female mosquitoes have exhibited a behavior change as a result of malaria in response to human odor, the study authors wrote.


Logan and colleagues have won a research grant to study this further over three years. In the next step, they will take body smell samples from 30 people, "mixing it all up so we’ve got an overall coverage of different types of human odor," he said. Scientists already know that individuals can differ in their attractiveness to mosquitoes.

Eventually, this may lead scientists to identify chemicals that can be used as lures for traps to target malaria-infected mosquitoes. Currently, the traps catch all kinds of mosquitoes, regardless of their malaria status. It would be more efficient, and better for monitoring purposes, to trap only those that have the parasite. This method might even be used to bring the population down.

There are some other intriguing examples in nature of how parasites control the minds of their hosts. A type of fungus, for example, can take over and eventually kill the ants it infects.

But these "zombie ants" don't have the tremendous human impact of malaria-carrying mosquitoes, which caused an estimated 660,000 deaths in 2010.

"The importance is that we showed in a biologically relevant system of a mosquito, a parasite and a blood host, that the parasite can manipulate the behavior of a mosquito," said lead study author Renate Smallegange, who now works at Wageningen Academic Publishers.

More: New discovery may be step toward ending malaria

soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Gundosxef

    Aloha!nyei! http://vvmmwt.com jtuya assqs http://sxyjmg.com kidig whosg http://jsrkse.com mnheq lkqwk http://qhkkzr.com qbuuz moanr http://yrkdou.com fophv qcabb

    May 15, 2013 at 22:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Gundosagf

    Aloha!lhtd! http://apverb.com cmwki nwgvp http://zqgjjw.com oyhmk vmaap http://ntsgnp.com uhdkk zbgmz http://sjecmp.com yaado brltq http://aiounq.com jnwyo zskcu

    May 15, 2013 at 22:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. WrittingProblems

    Terrible writing!!!! someone whould revise the articles before publishing them. This hurts the reader and the society in general.
    I guess I expected more or at least the minimum out of cnn....

    May 16, 2013 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. John V

    Well, for some reason they like me. When I'm around, nobody needs insect repellent.

    May 17, 2013 at 20:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Marissa

    I would be more impressed by the research if odors of other animals were tested as well.

    May 18, 2013 at 04:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Twilight Sparkle

      Yea, then we would be even more sure that the mosquitoes were more attracted to human odors, although, it could explain the reason for the large amounts of deaths.

      May 18, 2013 at 19:01 | Report abuse |
  6. over here

    Thanks for the recommendations shared in your blog. Something also important I would like to mention is that fat loss is not information on going on a dietary fad and trying to shed as much weight that you can in a couple of weeks. The most effective way to shed pounds is by having it bit by bit and right after some basic points which can make it easier to make the most from the attempt to lose fat. You may understand and already be following many of these tips, however reinforcing expertise never does any damage.

    May 26, 2013 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. poulan chainsaws

    Usually I don't learn post on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, very nice post.

    June 6, 2013 at 04:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. website valuations

    Hi, I think your site could possibly be having web browser compatibility problems. Whenever I look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in Internet Explorer, it's got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that, excellent blog!

    January 17, 2014 at 07:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. galata bekele

    it is wonderful to hear about a new investigation of mosquitoes behavior

    June 7, 2014 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. JustinCooke

    This research doesn't surprise me – especially as someone who is a sucker for these things. Let us know if you're ever looking to sell your website, btw. We have website buyers that might be interested.

    February 21, 2015 at 06:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Justin Cooke

    Some interesting research here, for sure.

    February 21, 2015 at 06:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. buying websites

    It's interesting they were able to apply this from one insect to another.

    February 21, 2015 at 06:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Prashanth

    It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all site
    owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be much more useful
    than ever before.

    March 3, 2018 at 05:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Solodeji

    The most effective way to shed pounds is by having it bit by bit and right after some basic points which can make it easier to make the most from the attempt to lose fat. monkey pox

    October 1, 2018 at 18:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Solodeji

    Let us know if you’re ever looking to sell your website, btw. We have website buyers that might be interested. https://www.eaglesnewsmedia.com/2017/12/corps-member-infected-with-monkeypox.html

    October 1, 2018 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. detectives privados en pozuelo

    detectives privados formentera


    December 11, 2020 at 23:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Mitzie Prophet

    site promotion will always be a tedious job but you can outsource site promotion on some indian or pakistani guy*


    December 20, 2020 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. vreyro linomit

    You could certainly see your expertise in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren't afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.


    December 31, 2020 at 07:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Bennie Beseke

    If you would like to improve your experience simply keep visiting this site and be updated with the most up-to-date gossip posted here.


    January 3, 2021 at 21:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Rayna Sajor

    If you would like to improve your experience simply keep visiting this site and be updated with the most up-to-date gossip posted here.


    January 5, 2021 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Clay Sonka

    Thanks so much the information. I love sucking dick btw hmu


    January 12, 2021 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. frolep rotrem

    You can certainly see your skills in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren't afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.


    January 15, 2021 at 01:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. frolep rotrem

    Howdy, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam feedback? If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can suggest? I get so much lately it's driving me mad so any support is very much appreciated.


    January 20, 2021 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Suzanne Baseler

    Do you want get more social network traffic, likes, subscribers? Our Company provide SMM Services that means (Social Media Marketing) that is directly using social network websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to promote a website. High Quality Services / Our prices are the cheapest in the market, starting at $0.01 / 24/7 Support / API Support for panel leaders / Best prices


    January 22, 2021 at 22:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Keneth Redburn

    Best Marketing Services – Cheapest on Market. SMM Supreme is the Top 5 Best Social Media Website in the World. Best Quality-Price Ratio on the market with 714,928 orders until now. – Facebook Fan Page Likes for $4.50/1000 – Instagram Followers for $0.78/1000 – Youtube Views: $1.62/1000 – Twitter followers: $2.10/1000 – Paypal Deposit – Bitcoin Deposit – Fast order processing – 1 Hour Delivery (Click on the link in the profile for more details)


    January 27, 2021 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. zortilonrel

    I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back later. Many thanks


    February 4, 2021 at 05:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Eneida Blinston

    thank you for this info.


    February 8, 2021 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Dr. Gőz Péter ügyvéd

    wonderful post, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector don't notice this. You must continue your writing. I am confident, you have a great readers' base already!


    February 9, 2021 at 03:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Europa-Road kombájn szállítás

    I simply could not leave your site before suggesting that I really enjoyed the standard info an individual supply on your visitors? Is going to be back regularly in order to investigate cross-check new posts


    February 9, 2021 at 05:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Profitable-Digital-Marketing Strategy-and-Plan

    500000 Scrapebox Blast Live SEO blog Comment Backlinks: https://www.seoclerk.com/Link-Building/842132/500000-Scrapebox-Blast-Live-SEO-blog-Comment-Backlinks


    February 16, 2021 at 20:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. ClarkTauts

    0sytw mn1og mg21

    February 28, 2021 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. ClarkTauts

    8akuo cm7hx f8s2

    March 1, 2021 at 00:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Tomas Seton

    Greetings from Carolina! I'm bored to death at work so I decided to browse your website on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the info you present here and can't wait to take a look when I get home. I'm amazed at how fast your blog loaded on my phone .. I'm not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, very good site!


    March 1, 2021 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.