Saturday, May 01, 2010

How to prevent mosquito bites

So, I've often wondered why I don't get bitten by mosquitoes. No, I mean really - they will attack everyone around me, yet leave me untouched. I have been told it's because I'm not sweet (me??), but scientists have begun investigating just why mosquitoes are more attracted to some people. According to this report:

Some scientists suggest that certain characteristics attract mosquitoes, thereby leading us to have more bites than others. Some of the top candidates: the amount of carbon dioxide in the breath, pregnancy, body temperature, alcohol and odorant markers based on blood type.


But, I think I've found a more likely culprit: quinine. Quinine is used in the treatment of malaria (which is, of course, carried by mosquitoes.)In fact, legend has it that it was the British who first introduced quinine into tonic water during their period of occupancy in India in order to keep their soldiers healthy. And those wily Brits then invented the gin and tonic. Refreshing, alcoholic AND medicinal!

So, I was interested to come across this recent study:

Taste aversion to quinine in mosquitoes: The taste of human skin surely influences whether a mosquito will bite and take a blood meal, but little is known about the taste world of mosquitoes, the major carrier of malaria. Our study tested the taste response of mosquitoes to the bitter compound quinine. The researchers measured the amount of sugar water mosquitoes drank while taste receptors on their feet were stimulated with quinine. Quinine decreased the amount that the mosquitoes drank. Knowing what does not taste good to mosquitoes could help us inhibit the spread of malaria by finding ways to make human skin distasteful. Funded by the Gates Foundation GCE


Now, my friends know that I love my vodka tonics. Perhaps the quinine has built up in my system, and now my skin tastes like it to mosquitoes. Hence, I never get bit!

So, drink up! It will save you from mosquito bites!

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