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 (472 Responses)
  1. RV Entertainment System Riverside


    May 11, 2021 at 22:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. xnxx shop

    Very good info. Lucky me I discovered your website by chance (stumbleupon). I have book-marked it for later!


    May 12, 2021 at 04:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Sprinter Van Recall Repair Near Me

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your website!


    May 12, 2021 at 04:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. repair rv blinds

    You're so interesting! I do not think I have read something like that before. So good to discover another person with genuine thoughts on this subject. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This site is one thing that is required on the web, someone with some originality!


    May 12, 2021 at 05:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Shower Riverside

    I need to to thank you for this great read!! I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it. I have you book marked to look at new stuff you post…


    May 12, 2021 at 05:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Muoi Brattin

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though


    May 12, 2021 at 06:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Mercedes Sprinter Cowl Panel Rust Repair

    Your style is unique in comparison to other people I have read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this page.


    May 12, 2021 at 06:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Center Riverside


    May 12, 2021 at 07:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. rv entertainment system


    May 12, 2021 at 09:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. rv remodeling companies near me


    May 12, 2021 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. rv slide out repair parts

    An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I do believe that you need to publish more on this subject, it may not be a taboo subject but usually people do not talk about these topics. To the next! Many thanks!!


    May 12, 2021 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Mercedes Sprinter Van Repair Near Me

    Very nice blog post. I absolutely love this site. Keep writing!


    May 12, 2021 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. rv body repair near me


    May 12, 2021 at 18:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. furniture repair in orange county ca

    You should be a part of a contest for one of the most useful sites on the internet. I'm going to recommend this web site!


    May 12, 2021 at 18:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV AC Orange County


    May 12, 2021 at 19:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Tires California

    Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve visited this site before but after looking at a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Regardless, I’m definitely delighted I came across it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back often!


    May 12, 2021 at 23:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. tv repair san fernando valley


    May 13, 2021 at 03:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. orange county body shop


    May 13, 2021 at 08:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. horse trailer renovation


    May 13, 2021 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Dent Repair Near Me


    May 13, 2021 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. camper repair places near me

    Can I simply just say what a comfort to find somebody that actually knows what they're discussing over the internet. You certainly understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More and more people should look at this and understand this side of the story. It's surprising you are not more popular because you surely possess the gift.


    May 13, 2021 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. car sound system repair near me

    After I originally commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I get four emails with the exact same comment. Perhaps there is a means you can remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!


    May 13, 2021 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. boom truck repair near me

    A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that you ought to write more about this subject, it might not be a taboo matter but generally folks don't talk about these topics. To the next! Kind regards!!


    May 13, 2021 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. vinyl wrap rv


    May 14, 2021 at 01:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. travel trailer frame repair

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I'm going to return once again since i have saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.


    May 14, 2021 at 01:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. semi truck shop near me


    May 14, 2021 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Freightline Sprinter Repair

    Hi! I could have sworn I’ve been to this web site before but after going through many of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m certainly pleased I discovered it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!


    May 14, 2021 at 02:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. airstream restoration california

    I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is something that not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this during my hunt for something regarding this.


    May 14, 2021 at 03:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Technician Orange County


    May 14, 2021 at 04:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Running Board Repair Dodge Sprinter

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It's always interesting to read through articles from other writers and practice a little something from other sites.


    May 14, 2021 at 07:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Sprinter Climate Control Repair


    May 14, 2021 at 08:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RV Storage Orange County

    Good article! We will be linking to this great content on our site. Keep up the good writing.


    May 14, 2021 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. stornobrzinol

    I have not checked in here for a while because I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are great quality so I guess I will add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂


    May 14, 2021 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Fabrication Los Angeles

    This website definitely has all the info I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 14, 2021 at 13:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. collision center of temecula temecula ca

    Your style is really unique in comparison to other people I have read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this page.


    May 14, 2021 at 15:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. realtor post falls


    May 14, 2021 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. homes for sale kellogg idaho

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day. It will always be exciting to read content from other authors and practice a little something from their web sites.


    May 14, 2021 at 17:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. rv plumbing repair near me


    May 14, 2021 at 17:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. bucket truck california

    Aw, this was an exceptionally good post. Spending some time and actual effort to produce a very good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and don't manage to get nearly anything done.


    May 14, 2021 at 21:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. home for sale coeur d alene


    May 14, 2021 at 21:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Maserati Extended Warranty


    May 14, 2021 at 22:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. homes for sale bayview id


    May 15, 2021 at 00:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. realtor nearby


    May 15, 2021 at 02:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. near by house for sale

    I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your information. The article has truly peaked my interest. I'm going to bookmark your website and keep checking for new details about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.


    May 15, 2021 at 11:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. realtor wallace idaho


    May 15, 2021 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. rv parts indio

    I could not refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!


    May 15, 2021 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Social Media Marketing Company Irvine

    After I originally left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I receive four emails with the same comment. Is there a way you can remove me from that service? Cheers!


    May 15, 2021 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Content Marketing Ideas

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will return once again since i have bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.


    May 15, 2021 at 22:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Internet Marketing California

    This is a topic that's near to my heart... Take care! Where are your contact details though?


    May 15, 2021 at 22:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. stornobrzinol

    I like this web blog very much, Its a real nice berth to read and receive info . "The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions." by Confucius.


    May 15, 2021 at 23:17 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

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.