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TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.
     

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Why are some people more attractive to mosquitoes?


 
The reason why some people are more attractive to mosquitoes is a riddle for scientists. A full understanding of this phenomenon would go a long way to reduce the incidence of malaria and its complications.

A female mosquito can “smell” its blood dinner from a distance of up to 50 kilometres. Its bite can mean much more than a few days of itching. For some people, it can cause severe allergic reactions. In addition, you could contract mosquito-transmitted diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, Ross River Fever and West Nile virus.

In a bid to find a lasting solution to the disease, scientists have been considering why mosquitoes are selective in the people they “bite”. There are several schools of thought on why mosquitoes bite some people more than others. The fact that most mosquitoes are attracted to the odour of carbon dioxide emitted with the breath of human beings hardly explains why some people are bitten more than others.

There are theories that women are more likely than men to be bitten because mosquitoes are repelled by the strong odour of male sweat, but this is not true either.

Some schools of thought hold that mosquitoes prefer women because of some secret hormonal trigger. But the explanation might be simpler: Women generally have thinner skin than men, so they are more likely targets of mosquitoes.

Does the human body have compounds within it and from without that are a “magnetic” for mosquitoes? Can the more recent thinking that substances in perfumes, soap residues, facial make-up, deodorants and other compounds on the skin result in someone becoming more or less attractive to mosquitoes be true?

Researchers have lately found that some people give off “masking odours” that prevent mosquitoes from finding them. They found that “unattractive” individuals give off different chemical signals compared with “attractive” individuals.

Based on their study of the behavioural reaction of yellow fever mosquitoes to the odour of volunteers, they suggest that differential attractiveness is due to compounds in unattractive individuals that act as repellents or by masking the attractive components of human odour.

Scientists have also found that mosquitoes exhibit strong blood-sucking preferences for at least one in 10 people and that genetics accounts for a whopping 85 per cent of  susceptibility to mosquito bites.

Mosquitoes also target people who produce excess amounts of uric acid. These substances can trigger mosquitoes’ sense of smell, luring them to land on unsuspecting victims. People who emit large quantities of carbon dioxide, such as large people and pregnant women, are also threatened by mosquitoes. Movement and heat also attract mosquitoes.
Keeping the mosquito bite at bay can be achieved, however, by using chemical-based repellants like DEET and alternative repellents such as the soybean oil-based repellants, which offer protection for about 1.5 hours. Oils like citronella, eucalyptus, peppermint, lemongrass and geranium provide short-lived protection.

Prof Oladimeji Oladepo, Dean of the Faculty of Public Health, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, says the debate has cultural underpinnings. Though there has been no validation of the claim that some people’s blood is ‘sweet’ to the mosquito,  “there are preliminary findings indicating that mosquito preference has to do with the release of certain odours”.
Pregnant women are being investigated for potentially attractive hormones for mosquitoes. Work is also ongoing to find out whether or not there is a relationship between what is found in the laboratory and cultural perceptions.

Prof Oladepo, the Future Health Systems Research Programme Consortium Nigerian representative, has a more prosaic explanation—studies indicate that poor people simply end up with more mosquito bites because they live in environments where more mosquitoes thrive.

“From our studies at FHS, what most of them do to prevent mosquito bite is place the leaves of some plants around to drive away mosquitoes, ensure that there are no breeding sites for mosquitoes, use long brooms to drive them out of the room and close their windows and doors at 6pm because that is when mosquitoes go into houses to rest.”

He added:  “If we are able to genetically profile who is a mosquito magnet, this can help in public health to re-educate people to be more conscious of being at higher risk of being bitten so that they can take preventive action. The higher the malaria parasite load you have, the more their virulence in destroying blood cells and the higher the possibility of the person having anaemia and simple malaria turning into severe malaria.”

Dr Taiwo Ladipo, the Malaria Control Programme Manager, Oyo State Ministry of Health, says the human body does attract mosquitoes. “The major gas exhaled, carbon dioxide, is one of the reasons why you get to hear the mosquitoes flying around your head. If a baby sleeps by her mother, the mother gets bitten more than the baby.”

As more efforts are put into understanding mosquitoes, there are several steps that people can take to protect themselves, he says. These include covering up to protect the extremities from mosquito bites, sleeping under insecticide-treated mosquito nets, maintaining a clean environment and ensuring effective and prompt treatment.

He adds: “Everyone who has the symptoms needs to be treated within 24 hours with appropriate drugs so that the parasite can be wiped out of the blood system. That way, even if the individual is bitten, there will be no parasite to be transferred to the next person.’’ .

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