New Study Finds Some Viruses Can Make You Tastier to Mosquitoes

July 11, 2022 11:39:50

Mosquitoes aren’t just loud and annoying, they take hundreds of thousands of lives per year by spreading diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and Zika. Researchers have now discovered a kind of cyclical relationship between mosquitoes and mosquito-borne viruses, including dengue fever and the Zika virus.

The researchers found that once these viruses have infected humans and mice, they alter their scent and make them more attractive to mosquitoes. Attracted by your altered scent, the deadly bugs gorge on your infected blood and transport the viruses to their next victim. Once the new victim is infected, the cycle happens again, creating an essentially endless cycle of bites and infection.

The National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, which is under the National Institutes of Health, stated that 20,000 people, most of them children, die from dengue fever every year. The disease is more prevalent in tropical and subtropical areas.

Zika, Japanese encephalitisyellow fever and West Nile fever are in the same family as the dengue fever virus. Since these viruses rely on cycles of continuous infections in their animal hosts to spread, it seems they have evolved a unique ability to attract mosquitoes to already infected hosts.

Researchers from  the Yunnan Tropical and Subtropical Animal Virus Disease Laboratory, the Ruili Hospital of Chinese Medicine and Dai Medicine, Tsinghua University in Beijing, UConn Health and the Chinese Centre for Disease Control wanted to see if Zika and dengue may be altering people’s scents.

First, they looked at whether mosquitoes had any interest in drinking from infected hosts. They found that when mosquitoes were provided a pair of choices — healthy or dengue-infected mice — they were more interested in the infected mice. The team took samples of smelly molecules from the skin of both the healthy and infected mice and discovered that there were several common molecules on the infected mice.

Once the researchers applied these molecules to healthy mice and the hands of individuals participating, they realized that a molecule called acetophenone was particularly attractive to the bugs. Samples from patients with dengue also showed that they also had increased levels of acetophenone and attracted more mosquitoes.

Normally, an antimicrobial peptide secreted by the skin prevents the Bacillus bacteria that produce acetophenone from getting out of hand. The scientists realized that Zika and dengue can reduce antimicrobial peptide production in infected hosts, resulting in higher levels of acetophenone and attracting more mosquitoes.

UConn Health immunologist and study author Penghua Wang said these viruses can essentially manipulate the skin microbiome of the host to attract more mosquitoes.

This sneaky way through which viruses such as dengue perpetuate themselves calls for advancements, such as those being sought by AREV Life Sciences Global Corp. (CSE: AREV) (OTC: AREVF), to combat these viral infections from as many angles as possible so that their cycle of infection is broken.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to AREV Life Sciences Global Corp. (CSE: AREV) (OTC: AREVF) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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