Thursday, 31 May 2018

Discovery: Children infected with malaria are more attractive to other mosquitoes because of specific odours released from their skin

Malaria which is carried by the female mosquito known as the Anopheles mosquito, is very deadly as it can kill, if not treated. In recent research, it is been discovered that children who are infected with malaria are more attractive to malaria-carrying mosquitoes (Anopheles) as compared to healthy kids. It stated, children who were infected with a malaria parasite, Plasmodium, emit a specific odour which attracts mosquitoes even more. 

Although the finding is truly alarming, as this has called for more attention. Also, this allowed researchers to conduct further studies on the said odour to learn more about the behavior of the parasite. 

According to Jetske de Boer from the Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands, the smells are fairly common; describing them as fruity or grassy.

The compounds heptanal, octanal and nonanal were found to be the combination of chemicals emitted by infected children who have been bitten by the Anopheles mosquito. Moreover, more of these aldehydes are emitted from the skin when the density of parasites (Plasmodium) in a child’s blood is higher.

“Now that we have identified and quantified the aldehydes associated with malaria infection, we understand more of the parasite’s infection route,” de Boer revealed. 

(Related: Toxic malaria vaccine to be tested in Africa, even after Health Ranger reports on a botanical alternative with an astounding 100% cure rate ).

Wageningen University and Research teamed up with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to conduct more focused studies on the matter. Support from different stakeholders was granted to the team, especially since malaria is a huge health issue the whole world is still dealing with.

Chemical ecologist Mike Birkett of the Department of Biointeractions and Crop Protection in Rothamsted emphasized that their findings serve as evidence that malarial mosquitoes find a human host more attractive. He added this breakthrough provides opportunities to use the human compounds as biomarkers of malaria and create better insect traps to lure mosquitoes.

As part of the team’s initiative, researchers based in Kenya did an odour sampling which involved 56 children aged between 5 and 12. A foot of each of the kids was wrapped in a special plastic, and air was blown inside for three hours. Using a filter, the foot odour is collected and contained.
Each sample was studied in the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine by researcher Ailie Robinson. Results have proven that children who were previously bitten by malarial mosquitoes, Anopheles, have higher chances of attracting or getting bitten again by said parasites.

Malaria in numbers in December of 2016, the World Health Organization reported that even though increased prevention and countermeasures were provided, the number of deaths caused by malaria is still high. Around 445,000 people died in 2016 alone, while 216 million cases of malaria infection were recorded in 91 countries. What’s scarier is the fact that nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of contracting malaria.

The numbers are overwhelming, but fortunately, with continued efforts from both the governments and non-government units, the mortality rate from malaria has significantly dropped by 29 percent since 2010. Early diagnosis can prevent malaria-caused deaths, so it’s important that people know the early signs and symptoms of a possible carrier of malaria. And below are symptoms of malaria:

-shaking chills that can range from moderate to severe
-high fever
-profuse sweating
-abdominal pain
-muscle pain
-bloody stools

With one heart, we can put an end to Malaria.

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