What makes a mosquito want to take a bite out of you : Goats and Soda Researchers have found that certain viruses may have a trick up their sleeve that can make humans more attractive to mosquitoes. The study also revealed a possible remedy.

Why mosquitoes might find you irresistible. Hint: A viral lure

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If you're one of those people mosquitoes love to chew on, you may have wondered why. Well, a new story published today in the journal Cell shows that, in some cases, there's a virus to blame. NPR's Ari Daniel has more.

ARI DANIEL, BYLINE: Dengue and Zika are dangerous diseases spread by mosquitoes. Penghua Wang is an immunologist with University of Connecticut Health. And he says once someone is infected, they become more alluring to mosquitoes, which ultimately helps the virus spread.

PENGHUA WANG: I mean, the infection just increases the chance to be located by a mosquito.

DANIEL: The question is why? Wang and his team suspected scent might have something to do with it. So they got two cohorts of mice - one infected, the other not - and the mosquitoes flocked to the odor coming from the infected mice.

WANG: These two viruses can alter body odor to be more attractive to mosquitoes.

DANIEL: And they alter body odor by changing the skin's bacteria or microbiome to get them to produce an aroma that, if you're a mosquito, is just intoxicating.

WANG: I found it very exciting. I said, oh, wow, this is going to be a big thing.

DANIEL: In part because they figured out a way to fix this by giving infected mice some vitamin A, which returned their microbiome to a healthy state, and the mosquitoes weren't as interested anymore. Noushin Emami is an infectious disease biologist at the University of Greenwich in London. She wasn't involved in the research and says it shows just how clever viruses can be.

NOUSHIN EMAMI: That is the main message.

DANIEL: The researchers noticed the mosquitoes were similarly attracted to the odor of people with dengue - a promising avenue of future work. Ari Daniel, NPR News.


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