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Malaria parasite may trigger human odour to lure mosquitoes

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LONDON — Scientists may have figured out part of the reason why mosquitoes are drawn to people infected with malaria: odour.

Swedish researchers say they’ve identified a substance pumped out by malaria parasites that triggers that distinctive smell, noticeable only to mosquitoes. The study from Stockholm University was published Thursday by the journal Science.

Malaria is caused by parasite that’s spread by mosquitoes. A mosquito bites someone who’s already infected, then passes the parasites to the next person it bites. The illness kills about 429,000 people every year, mostly children in Africa.

Alvaro Acosta Serrano, a parasite researcher at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, said it might be possible to make synthetic versions of the mosquito-attracting fragrance to lure and then wipe out the insects.

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