Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mosquitoes more attracted to beer drinkers: study

It might be nice enough to enjoy a pint outside in your part of Canada, but news that mosquitoes are likely to target people with beer in their systems might make you re-think enjoying your favorite patio.
Or at least apply some bug repellent before you head out.
A study, conducted by scientists at the IRD Research Centre in France, shows that insects are 15 per cent more likely to fly toward humans after they have consumed a pint.
The researchers write in Plos One that one possible explanation is, "Mosquitoes may have evolved preferences for people who recently consumed beer - possibly due to reduced host defensive behaviours or highly-nutritious blood-meals."
The team used 25 males from West Africa and had them drink a local brew called Dolo. Mosquitoes were then released into the air and had the option of flying toward open air or the odour of the participant. Before participants drank the beer, only 50 per cent of mosquitoes flew toward the participant's odour. After a beer, the number rose to 65 per cent.
"Beer consumption, as opposed to water consumption, significantly increased both the activation and orientation of An. gambiae," the authors write in Plos One. "We found that beer consumption not only enhanced the number of mosquitoes that engage in odour-mediated upwind flight (mosquito activation) but also enhanced the strength of their odour-mediated anemotactic response (mosquito orientation)."
Researchers also tried the same experiment with water finding that it was six per cent less likely for mosquitoes to fly toward the participants odour after consuming a glass.
They are hoping to use the findings to decrease cases of malaria, a disease that kills 780,000 people worldwide every year.
While malaria may not be a big problem in Canada, it is a good idea to lather on the bug screen when at the cottage enjoying beer.

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