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Do You Attract Mosquitoes? New Research Suggests It Might Be Your Smell

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Do You Attract Mosquitoes? New Research Suggests It Might Be Your Smell

(CTN News) – Mosquitoes contribute to the spread of deadly diseases like malaria, which kill millions of people every year. People-biting mosquitoes exist.

Some people seem more susceptible to mosquito bites than others. No scientifically proven reason for that has ever been found, such as blood type, clothing, or bacteria on the skin.

However, a newly published study published in Cell Oct. 18 details how some people are mosquito magnets due to the production of chemicals linked to smell.

During the three-year study, participants wore nylon stockings over their arms every day for six hours for multiple days to pick up their skin scent. In a round-robin tournament-like experiment, the stockings were placed at the ends of separate long tubes, and Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes were released to see which tubes they would select.

By the end, researchers discovered that one participant, Subject 33, was 100 times more appealing to mosquitoes than the least appealing participant. The mosquitoes always chose Subject 33’s nylon stocking over any other.

Researchers tested Subject 33 with 56 more people to see if that was an outlier, but mosquitoes remained loyal.

Researchers examined the chemical compounds of each participant and noticed those who were mosquito magnets produced carboxylic acids at much higher levels than those who were not.

Leslie Vosshall, neurobiologist at Rockefeller University in New York, says there’s a very strong association between these fatty acids and mosquito magnetism.

This wasn’t the purpose of the study, he said. The goal was to make mosquitoes less attracted to humans.

That wasn’t what we saw, she said.

Despite multiple years of testing, the study showed that these big differences persist, said Matt DeGennaro, a neuro geneticist at Florida International University.

As mosquito magnets, De Gennaro said, they remain so.

While they did not succeed in their goal, the findings could pave the way for mosquito repellents.

Changing someone’s odor requires manipulating their skin microbiome; and, if possible, slathering Subject 33’s skin with compounds of people who are less attractive to mosquitoes could help avoid being bitten.

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