The parasite that causes malaria can change the way you smell, making you more attractive to mosquitoes, according to a new study. The work may help explain why the disease is able to spread so effectively.
The new study adds important details about how human odor is influenced by malaria, says Audrey Odom John, a parasitologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri who was not involved in the study. “This is very cool, and it’s been needed for some time.”
Earlier studies have found that infection with Plasmodium parasites, which cause malaria, can influence how animals smell and people’s attractiveness to mosquitoes. The new research, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, expands on them by testing a larger number of people outside a lab, and by dissecting body odors to see which chemicals matter to mosquitoes. Read more.