SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

Study on mosquitoes' preferred gender to feed on may help limit disease transmission

In a recent article published in Royal Society Open Science, it has been determined by University of Florida researchers that mosquitoes bite male birds nearly twice as often as they do female birds.

These findings could help scientists and researchers understand how to prevent viruses from spreading to human beings. The study shows mosquitoes bite male birds 64 percent of the time.

Nathan Burkett-Cadena, a UF entomology assistant professor, said, “It's not that mosquitoes prefer to feed on men, but it's probably something men are doing. Are they working or relaxing outside while women are inside, taking care of the household? If men and women are engaging in different activities that cause them to be bitten by mosquitoes more or less often, then perhaps people can alter their behaviors to reduce their chances of contracting a deadly disease."

For the study, Burkett-Cadena and his UF colleagues went to a Tampa-area swamp to collect hundreds of females of three mosquito species known to transmit viruses from birds to humans. The vast majority of the mosquitoes still had blood in their digestive tracts that came from their selected targets.

Ohio State University retired entomology professor Woodbridge Foster said research like this will help scientists control mosquito-borne infections, with malaria at the top of the list

"In the case of humans, sex- and age-connected risk can be reduced in a number of ways, including immunization, repellents, altering work and non-work habits and modifying the environment of the most vulnerable," Foster said.

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