Viral infections attract mosquitoes |

Because inflammation and malaria infection can change people’s smell, the research team wondered if the same would be true for dengue and Zika virus infections. These viruses are found mainly in tropical and subtropical countries and are transmitted by mosquitoes. Animal experiments with mice have shown that mosquitoes actually prefer infected mice.

The researchers then analyzed the odor molecules on the skin of infected, healthy mice. They found several compounds that were more common in infected animals. In tests with uninfected mice and on the hands of healthy volunteers, the acetophenone compound was found to be particularly attractive to mosquitoes. This could be seen on the skin of dengue fever patients: they had more acetophenone on their skin and were therefore more attractive to mosquitoes.

Acetophenone is produced by some Bacillus bacteria that live on the skin of humans and mice. Normally, the skin produces a substance that keeps bacterial populations in check. When the mice were infected with dengue or Zika virus, they produced less of it, so the bacteria grew better. The researchers conclude that viruses can change skin flora to attract more mosquitoes and spread faster.

They also found a remedy that could work preventively: a vitamin A-like substance called isotretinoin is known to increase the production of the antimicrobial substance. Mice treated with isotretinoin actually released less acetophenone, resulting in fewer mosquitoes.

Next, the researchers want to test whether isotretinoin reduces acetophenone production in sick people and mice.

Those: DOI 10.17632 / 5r5jyxm5sr.1

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