Mosquitoes don't bite chickens and are put off by their smell, which is good news for humans hoping to avoid being infected with malaria.
A team led by Dr Habte Tekie (above) of the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia working with researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences may have found a new and effective way to repel disease-spreading mosquitoes. Testing conducted by the researchers determined that Anopheles arabiensis, the main vector of malaria in sub-saharan Africa, doesn't bite chickens... they much prefer humans, cattle, sheep and goats.
Mosquitoes locate their targets by sensing their body heat and the CO2 exhaled into the air during respiration. The researchers noted that Anopheles arabiensis were repelled by chickens, however, even though the birds are both warm-blooded and breathe oxygen. Something must be putting the mosquitoes off chickens, and that something is the cluckers' natural scent!
“We were surprised to find that malaria mosquitoes are repelled by the odors emitted by chickens,” states Rickard Ingell, author of the study published in Malaria Journal. “This study shows for the first time that malaria mosquitoes actively avoid feeding on certain animal species, and that this behavior is regulated through odor cues.”
Eventually, adding certain chicken-specific aromas to commercial mosquito repellents could raise the effectiveness of these remedies and thus, reduce the incidence of malaria. (via BBC, Yen, and Daily Nation)