Mosquitoes: Do They Love You?

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Mosquito Epidemic

Australia is home to around 300 types of hungry mosquitoes and if you’re the person at a BBQ that mosquitoes always bite, then it may not be that your “blood is sweeter” but it may be biological.

Scientists now believe your genes can influence whether a person’s odour attracts or repels mosquitoes.

A team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine studied identical and fraternal twins. They found the people who are less attractive to mosquitoes produce a natural repellent which seems to be genetically controlled.

Senior lecturer in medical etymology Dr. James Logan said the study’s findings may help to develop ways to better ward off insects.

“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,” Dr Logan said.

“In the future we may even be able to take a pill which will enhance production of natural repellents by the body.”

Why do mosquitoes bite?

Only female mosquitoes bite and they draw out blood while injecting some of their saliva. They seek to feed on blood to get the nutrients required to produce eggs. A male mosquito’s primary role is reproduction.

A mosquito uses the sharp tip of its straw-like mouth (proboscis) to pierce a person’s skin. It locates the blood vessel and draws blood up through its mouth.

Do Mosquitoes Bite Other Species?

Human beings aren’t alone in dealing with mosquitoes. Certain species of mosquito attack birds, other mammals and some even selectively target fish and reptiles.

In situations where a given species’ preferred food supply is low or threatened, the mosquito will not hesitate to be opportunistic and feed on whatever it can.

How to Prevent Mosquito Bites?

The best way to avoid mosquito bites is preparation and prevention. Wear clothing which covers your limbs and covered shoes and use insect repellent if you are going to places where mosquitos are.

Natural insect repellents are effective, but you may want to use chemical-based, over-the-counter remedies if you are traveling to another country.

Limiting or avoiding exposure to certain things may help minimize your risk for mosquito bites. Below is a list of things known to attract mosquitos:
• Sweat and body odour
• Light
• Heat
• Lactic acid
• carbon dioxide.

Alcohol intake is also shown to be associated with a higher probability of being bitten. You may want to avoid drinking the night before you’ll be in an area with mosquitos.

How to Treat Mosquito Bites?

Home remedies may not rid the itchiness of mosquito bites for some people. There are other options:
• Take oral antihistamines like Claritin or Benadryl
• Utilise a topical anti-itch cream or lotion, such as Benzocaine
• Visit a nearby medical facility and get appropriate treatment.

When to see a doctor?

Mosquito bites may cause swollen joints, hives, and high fever in some people.

You should have relief from mosquito bites within 24 hours but infected mosquito bites take longer to heal. It‘s a good idea for a person to speak to a doctor about any suspected infections.

Some people are very allergic to mosquito bites. For these people, being bitten may cause an anaphylactic shock. Symptoms of this include:

• Trouble breathing
• Facial swelling
• Hives.

If a person has an anaphylactic shock, they need emergency medical treatment as soon as possible, usually an injection of epinephrine through an EpiPen.

Mosquito bites may also cause the following symptoms in some people:
• High fever
• Swollen joints
• Blisters
• Lesions
• Hives.

A person should speak to a doctor if they experience these symptoms. If after hours, a home doctor from House Call Doctor is another option.

Bites from the mosquito species Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus are linked with several diseases which include Zika, dengue, and chikungunya.

How long does a mosquito bite last?

A mosquito bite can last for hours to a few days.

The length of a mosquito bite and its symptoms vary depending on the size of the bite and the person’s immune system. Itching or scratching the bite can increase the length of time it lasts.

To avoid hyperpigmentation, look for creams with vitamin C, E, or niacinamide.