Smelly feet 'increase malaria risk'

03 January 2012 09:07

Researchers have linked a person's feet to their chances of contracting malaria

Researchers have linked a person's feet to their chances of contracting malaria

Feet that are heavily covered with certain types of bacteria are more prone to attracting mosquito bites, according to new research.

But some people with a wide variety of different bacteria on their feet also appear to have some protection from bites, according to the study.

The scientists suggested that certain types of bacteria carrying specific microbe smells may have the ability to repel mosquitoes.

While there are a number of precautions people can take to reduce their chances of catching malaria while abroad, travellers should always make sure they have medical travel insurance in place before going to a country where malaria is a risk.

The findings could help scientists fight the disease and other insect-spread infections by altering people's body odours, it was claimed.

The research was published in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE.

Dr Niels Verhulst, from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and colleagues wrote: "Compounds that inhibit microbial production of human odour, or manipulation of the composition of the skin microbiota may reduce a person's attractiveness to mosquitoes."

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