+
mosquitoes, bug bites, dengue, Zika, mice, study
Photo by Syed Ali on Unsplash

Mosquitoes are attracted to certain viral smells in both humans and mice.

As much as I love summer, there is one thing I could do without: bugs. More specifically, mosquitoes. Those pesky little buggers can wreak havoc on a beautiful summer day. Who hasn't spent time outside in summer and then come in all itchy and covered in bites? There are multiple reasons why some people are more susceptible to mosquito bites than others, but there's a new one that likely isn't on people's radars. Mosquitoes could be attracted to the odor certain viruses create in the body.

There is evidence that mosquitoes are attracted to the odor given off by mice infected by the parasite that causes malaria. Now, a team is looking at how the scent of mosquito-borne viruses such as dengue and Zika would attract mosquitoes to people rather than mice.


For those who may be unfamiliar with the two viruses, the most important thing to know about them both is how dangerous they are to humans. Some effects of dengue include vomiting, aches and pains, and in severe cases, internal bleeding, according to the CDC. Zika virus is best known for being dangerous for pregnant women, as it can cause certain kinds of birth defects in fetuses, per the CDC.

Because both viruses rely on mosquitoes for transmission, it begs the question: Do people infected with either viruses give off extra tasty odors? That's what the team was looking to discover.

"I mean, the infection just increase[s] the chance to be located by a mosquito," Penghua Wang, an immunologist with University of Connecticut Health, told NPR.

Wang and the rest of his team set out to find out if it's true that infected people become mosquito chow, and undertook a study, which was recently published in the journal Cell. In the study, they blew two different types of air: one infected with either of the two viruses and one without, over two different groups of mice. As to be expected, the mosquitoes buzzed around those infected mice like they were a buffet dinner.

"These two viruses can alter a person's body odor to be more attractive to mosquitoes," Wang said. What happens is that the smell alters the skin's microbiome to make it more appetizing to the blood-sucking little critters. Wang explained to NPR that he was "excited" by this new development as it could lead to a lot of understanding of virus transmission by mosquitoes.

While this is an incredibly positive prospect, it's important to keep in mind that experimenting on mice isn't really the same as experimenting on people. And just because this is going well with mice doesn't mean it will go well with people. But, during the study, the team discovered that people infected with dengue had similar attention from the mosquitoes.

The other promising thing? Since they've discovered the attraction, they were also able to find a possible treatment plan. They discovered that when they gave the sick mice a vitamin A supplement, the mosquitoes lost interest. Knowing this information can help researchers explore how Zika and dengue spread. According to Wang, in some of the areas where dengue and Zika are most common, many people are vitamin A deficient.

Whatever they discover, I'm very curious to see if this information will offer insight on not only how diseases get spread, but also what makes people (like me) more susceptible to getting bitten in the first place.




Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

Honorees, speakers and guests on stage at We the Peoples

True

Some people say that while change is inevitable, progress is a choice. In other words, it’s a purposeful act—like when American media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner established the United Nations Foundation 25 years ago.

Keep ReadingShow less

Soul Asylum's "Runaway Train" actually saved 21 missing children.

Anyone who was a teen in the '90s will remember the grunge era. Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were topping the charts with their gravely metaphorical lyrics, but they weren't alone. Soul Asylum burst onto the scene with their solemn anthem "Runaway Train" complete with a video that showcased missing kids.

The video gave missing and exploited children a much bigger platform to be recognized on, because before the video was showcased on MTV, milk cartons were the common method to distribute these photos. In theory, milk cartons seem like a pretty effective way to highlight missing children, but in reality, eventually people would become blind to the photos.

The music video for "Runaway Train" was played all around the world and to the target audience that would most likely recognize the faces. It should come as no surprise, then, that the video helped to bring home 21 missing children. What is surprising, is that the band had to push to keep the pictures of the missing kids in the music video because people didn't think it was working.

Keep ReadingShow less
True

Innovation is awesome, right? I mean, it gave us the internet!

However, there is always a price to pay for modernization, and in this case, it’s in the form of digital eye strain, a group of vision problems that can pop up after as little as two hours of looking at a screen. Some of the symptoms are tired and/or dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain1. Ouch!

Keep ReadingShow less
Democracy

Florida city commissioner is being called a hero for confronting mayor who cut off power to residents

"You're calling me disrespectful because I've interrupted people, but this gentleman has turned off people's lights in the middle of a global health pandemic."

City commission meeting in Lake Worth Beach, Florida

This article originally appeared on 03.23.20


Palm Beach Post/YouTubeThey say a crisis brings out the best and the worst in people. It also reveals the best and the worst in our leaders.

A city commission meeting in Lake Worth Beach, Florida has gone viral after Commissioner Omari Hardy took his fellow city officials to task for their seeming indifference to their constituents during the coronavirus crisis.

Hardy confronted Mayor Pam Triolo and City Manager Michael Bornstein, who he said refused to call an emergency meeting last week, per Hardy's repeated requests, to discuss issues coming about from the coronavirus crisis. And he let his frustrations show.

"You're calling me disrespectful because I've interrupted people, but this gentleman has turned off people's lights in the middle of a global health pandemic," Hardy said, referring to Bornstein.

Keep ReadingShow less

Chris Hemsworth and daughter.

This article originally appeared on 08.27.18


In addition to being the star of Marvel franchise "Thor," actor Chris Hemsworth is also a father-of-three? And it turns out, he's pretty much the coolest dad ever.

In a clip from a 2015 interview on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Hemsworth shared an interesting conversation he had with his 4-year-old daughter India.

Keep ReadingShow less
Community

A newly single mom gets inspiring life advice from an internet 'Bubbie' who's been there

'Take care of yourself first. When you take care of yourself, you can take care of your kid.'

Photo by arty on Unsplash

A newly single mom gets inspiring life advice from an internet grandma.

Becoming a single mom isn't easy, especially if it's unexpected and you feel wholly unprepared. Recently, a newly single mom posted a tearful plea on TikTok asking for advice on how to navigate her new life. But she wasn't without advice long, "TikTok Bubbie" stitched the video and responded explaining how she survived as an unexpectedly single mom in 1989.

The video was sweet and full of inspiration for single parents starting their journey. In the beginning of the video she explained that her ex-husband left her when her son was 4 years old and took all the money out of the bank account. Being suddenly single caused her to have to give up her acting career.

The internet Bubbie went on to tell the young mom, "I got furniture from the Salvation Army. That's right, I got secondhand furniture. Secondhand clothes for me, my son never. He always was first in my book and still is to this day." TikTok Bubbie wasn't done, she made a second video to expand on her advice.

Keep ReadingShow less