Malaria actually makes you 'delicious' to mosquitoes!


Malaria is a condition that is almost synonymous with the monsoons, but apart from the fact that you should try to prevent contracting the disease, once infected you become more 'delicious' to mosquitoes. According to a new study that aimed to detect the disease without any invasive tests and using the odour of the person as an indicator. The study conducted at ETH Zurich and Pennsylvania State University show that the plasmodium parasite (one that causes malaria) appears to manipulate its host by changing the characteristics of the infected individual's body odour making the carrier more attractive to hungry mosquitoes.

The study was carried out on mice that were infected with the malaria pathogen. Researchers then discovered that the pathogens would change the scent of infected mice, making those infected more attractive to mosquitoes. But what was even more interesting was the fact that Mosquitoes were most attracted to infected mice with a high concentration of gametocytes, the plasmodium parasite's reproductive cells, in their blood. (Read: 6 common malaria symptoms)

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On the flip side, 'There appears to be an overall elevation of several compounds that are attractive to mosquitoes,' said Consuelo De Moraes, from ETH Zurich. The researchers believe it is logical that infected people smell more attractive but do not form highly specific body odours, especially given that the malaria pathogen can also have adverse effects on mosquitoes.

Read more about Malaria-- causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and treatment

Once infected, your body odour changes for life; 'Since mosquitoes probably don't benefit from feeding on infected people, it may make sense for the pathogen to exaggerate existing odour cues that the insects are already using for host location,' said study leader Mark Mescher. What researchers found most surprising is the fact that the malaria infection leaves its mark on body odour for life. Even when infected mice no longer had symptoms, their body odour showed that they were carriers of the pathogen. However, not all stages of the disease smelled the same: the scent profile of the acutely ill differs from the profile found in individuals exhibiting later stages of malaria infection. (Read: Neem and tulsi, effective remedies to keep malaria out of your home)

Although the findings cannot be directly transferred to human malaria, they suggest that similar effects might be involved in the attraction of mosquitoes to infected people. In addition to aiding efforts to disrupt malaria transmission by mosquitoes, researchers hope that findings may also be used to develop new non-invasive diagnostic procedures that would facilitate effective screening of human populations for malaria infections, particularly in order to identify individuals who don't otherwise have symptoms but remain capable of spreading the disease. The study was published in the journal PNAS.(Read: World Malaria Day 2014: Unplanned construction work leading to malaria increase)

How is malaria treated?

Diagnosis usually involved a blood test and physical examination. But once diagnosed, your treatment will be decided depending on the type of malaria you are suffering from. Here are your options when it come to your treatment options:

Previously, the common line of treatment for malaria was to administer the drug chloroquine. But over the years it has been found that the drug was ineffective against Plasmodium Falciparum the plasmodium that causes falciparum malaria. This plasmodium has more or less developed a resistance to the drug rendering it ineffective leading to the breed of cholorquine-resistant mosquitoes that causemulti-drug resistant malaria.

The main ingredient in all anti-malarial drugs is an extract from a plant called Qinghaosu that produces chloroquine.

The newest drug therapies being used in India include, using combination of drugs namelyArtimisinin-based combination therapy, analogues of existing drugs (different and more potent forms of the drug) namelyatovaquonone andproguanil and drug resistant reversers. Read more about How is malaria treated?

With inputs from PTI

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