Those Mosquito Bites Are in Your Genes

No doubt you’ve had the experience of sitting outside on a pleasant summer evening with friends as dusk comes on and some people start yelping about mosquitoes biting them while others seem oblivious. I myself am rarely bitten, but my wife can be covered with bites in a matter of minutes as we sit side by side.

Finally, science steps up with the reason: It’s probably in your genes. Research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine indicates that body odors are a function of your genetic code, and that some odors actually repel mosquitoes — an obvious and common-sense adaptation of evolution that has been hinted at in previous studies. The results were published in the most recent edition of the journal PLOS ONE.

If mosquitoes find you super tasty, it’s probably your genes that cause the attraction.

Scientists used 19 nonidentical and 18 identical twins in the trial. The identical twins group had more people that attracted mosquitoes, and when one twin attracted mosquitoes, the other did too. Although previous theories have suggested that overweight people, pregnant women and people who eat certain foods are more attractive to mosquitoes, the results of investigative scientific studies have been inconsistent.

The senior author of the study, Dr. James Logan, said that if we can identify the specific repellants some people produce, we should be able to effectively control mosquito bites with skin creams or even a once-a-day pill.

Although mosquitoes can seem more like a nuisance than a health tragedy, malaria is one of the deadliest infectious diseases in the world, inflicting death in nearly 100 countries. Each year, there are about 200 million cases of malaria and about 600,000 deaths. The list of diseases carried by mosquitoes in the United States is impressive and includes dengue fever, West Nile virus, encephalitis and Jamestown Canyon virus.

To your health and wealth,

Stephen L. Petranek
for The Daily Reckoning

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