Updated: 01.07.2022 – 14:11
Female mosquitoes react
Frequent mosquito bites? Found another factor that attracts mosquitoes
Do you also get abused by mosquitoes as soon as you go outside in the summer? So they probably secrete attractants that attract mini-vampires. Scientists have now identified another factor.
Certain chemical compounds in sweat and stale air magically attract mosquitoes. Scientists have now identified another factor that makes people particularly attractive to mosquitoes. As a result, people with a viral infection secrete a substance that makes them especially attractive to female mosquitoes.
Mosquito bites: People with viral infections are attracted to mosquitoes
Mosquitoes use their sense of smell to find people whose blood can bleed. A current study, which has now been published in the trade journal “Cell”, shows that people with an infectious disease are particularly attracted to mosquitoes. This reads “The standard”.
‘Mosquitoes rely on their sense of smell to identify hosts,’ explains Gong Cheng, an infection biologist at Tsinghua University in Beijing and lead researcher on the project. “At the beginning of this study, we found that mosquitoes preferentially seek out and breastfeed mice infected with Dengue and Zika.” Basically, it is the female mosquitoes that bite. They need the blood and the proteins it contains for reproduction and egg production.
In an experiment with mice infected with Zika and dengue viruses, mosquitoes showed particular interest in them. Scientists found that the animals had a high concentration of acetophenone. This substance occurs naturally in fruits such as apples or bananas, as well as in cheese or beef. Additionally, the chemical compound is found in natural and man-made resins.
Flaviviruses increase the attractiveness levels for mosquitoes
According to the researchers, flaviviruses, which include Zika and dengue and which cause TBE or yellow fever, increase the level of attractants in humans and animals, making them particularly popular. It is “a sophisticated interaction between the host’s skin microbiota, flaviviruses and mosquitoes,” the study authors write. Viruses prevent the production of a certain protein. If this protein is missing, bacteria that produce a particularly high amount of acetophenone can multiply on the skin.
This attracts more mosquitoes, even those that are not yet carriers of the virus. But as soon as it taps into an attractive smelling host, the pathogen can also enter their bodies. This shows the smart strategy of viruses, which contributes to their spread.
The substance may also be attractive to common mosquitoes
The study focused on the Egyptian tiger mosquito, also known as yellow fever or dengue mosquito and most of which transmit these diseases. But the common mosquito, which is one of the most widespread species in Europe, may also be attracted to acetophenone, according to experts. However, further investigation is still lacking. Meanwhile, the Egyptian tiger mosquito from Africa and the Asian tiger mosquito are also becoming more common in southern and central Europe. Due to climate change and the resulting rise in average temperatures, insects feel at home in more and more regions. It is not yet known whether other viruses warrant greater attraction to mosquitoes.
Sources: derstandard.de, paket.de
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