17:15 22 July 2016
Scientists from Sweden and Ethiopia have come up with a surprising way to avoid getting malaria – sleep with a chicken next to the bed. Mosquitoes spread malaria by drinking the blood of infected individual and then biting someone else.
In their study, the scientists tested the blood in mosquitoes that had recently fed and found that only one out of nearly 1,200 had bitten a chicken while 63per cent fed on cattle and 20per cent sucked human blood. There were 6,700 humans, 3,200 chickens, 10,000 cattle, 850 goats, and 480 sheep that were “available” to the mosquitoes during the study.
One of the researchers, Professor Rickard Ignell, of Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, said: “We were surprised to find that malaria mosquitoes are repelled by the odours emitted by chickens.
“This study shows for the first time that malaria mosquitoes actively avoid feeding on certain animal species, and that this behaviour is regulated through odour cues.”
It was found that chickens have compounds in their feathers that have a repellent effect and these are isobutyl butyrate, naphthalene, hexadecane and trans-limonene. The researchers added that chicken feathers also posed barriers to mosquitoes and that the birds “will actively feed on mosquitoes.”