You might not be able to tell if the person next to you has malaria, but mosquitos sure can. According to new research from the American Society for Microbiology, blood infected with malaria produces a distinct scent that attracts mosquitos.
Dr. Audrey R. Odom, the study's lead author, hopes that the discovery can be used to better understand mosquito behavior and prevent malaria transmission. "Understanding the molecular basis of mosquito attraction and host choice is important for figuring out how you might prevent people from getting bitten in the first place," she remarked in a news release.
Researchers are investigating whether the scent, produced by chemical compounds called terpenes, could potentially be used as a diagnostic tool. "Obviously a breathalyzer test would be a lot nicer than the blood-based tests that are currently used," Odom add