DESTINED TO BE BITTEN: New study reveals genes can make us more attractive to bugs

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A new research revealed that people’s genes determine how attractive their body smell is to biting insects.

According to a report from Mirror, “the new study found that identical twin pairs were more similar in their attractiveness to mosquitoes than non-identical twins. Since identical twins share all the same genes and non-identical twins do not, this was evidence that the mosquito effect was genetically driven.”

“By investigating the genetic mechanism behind attractiveness to biting insects such as mosquitoes we can move closer to using this knowledge for better ways of keeping us safe from bites and the diseases insects can spread through bites,” Lead scientist James Logan, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said.

“If we understand the genetic basis for variation between individuals it could be possible to develop bespoke ways to control mosquitoes better, and develop new ways to repel them. In the future we may even be able to take a pill which will enhance the production of natural repellents by the body and ultimately replace skin lotions,” he added.

A total of 18 identical and 19 non-identical twin pairs were involved in the study. Aedies aegypti mosquitoes — which transmit dengue fever — were released into a Y-shaped tube that allowed them to choose between the hands of participants.

Dengue cases worldwide

Dengue ranks as the most important mosquito-borne viral disease in the world today, the World Health Organization (WHO) disclosed.

“In the last 50 years, incidence has increased 30-fold. An estimated 2.5 billion people live in over 100 endemic countries and areas where dengue viruses can be transmitted. Up to 50 million infections occur annually with 500,000 cases of dengue haemorrhagic fever and 22,000 deaths mainly among children,” WHO said.

Dengue cases in PH

In the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) recently reported an increase in the number of dengue cases during the first quarter of the 2015, Manila Bulletin reported.

A total of 19,946 suspect dengue cases nationwide were recorded from January 1 to April 4 this year, or a 6.49 percent increase compared to the 18,730 cases in the first quarter of 2014, data from DOH revealed.