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Infectious disease

Aldehydes lure mosquitoes

Malaria-infected people give off certain attractant chemicals in greater amounts

by Bethany Halford
April 23, 2018 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 96, ISSUE 17

09617-scicon6-mosquitoCXD.jpg
Credit: James D. Gathany/CDC (Mosquito)
Anopheles gambiae, a malaria-transmitting mosquito

People infected with the malaria parasites Plasmodium produce increased amounts of the aldehydes heptanal, octanal, and nonanal. These compounds make the people more attractive to the Anopheles mosquitoes (shown) that transmit the parasites. An international team of researchers discovered these aldehyde attractants by studying socks from Kenyan children infected with malaria as well as those who were parasite-free. The researchers suggest the aldehydes could enhance mosquito lures and traps (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2018, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1721610115).

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