Dengue and dirty viruses produce a smell that attracts mosquitoes

2022/07/14 Galarraga Aiestaran, Ana - Elhuyar Zientzia Iturria: Elhuyar aldizkaria

Anopheles aegypti mosquito. Ed. James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control / CC BY-SA

Humans and mice, when infected with the dengue or dirty virus, secrete a chemical that attracts mosquitoes.

Dengue and dirty viruses spread through mosquitoes. Researchers note that mosquitoes tend to bite infected hosts. As you know, they use smell to choose the host. Thus, studying the smell of infected hosts reveals that acetophenone is the key, as it was found in concentrations higher than usual in the skin of infected individuals.

It has also been studied how the virus increases the production of this molecule and has been shown to remove a protein that conditions the microbial composition of the skin, increasing the bacteria that produce acetophenone.

On the other hand, they have observed that a drug used for treating acne, isotretinoin, has to do with this protein and that mice treated with isotretinoins escape mosquito bites.

So if you identify the molecule that attracts mosquitoes, you may have a treatment that protects them from mosquito bites and prevents them from spreading.