Interesting news from science: It seems that mosquitoes who do carry malaria are more attracted to the smell of stinky feet than mosquitoes who are not infected.
In a laboratory study, researchers found that mosquitoes infected with the tropical disease were more attracted to human odors from a dirty sock than those that didn’t carry malaria. Insects carrying malaria parasites were three times more likely to be drawn to the stinky stockings.
Maybe our local experts on Dengue fever will know whether this finding is the same for Dengue-carrying mosquitoes, because I don’t know. But it is a simple precaution to keep used socks away from occupied areas of the house.
I do know malaria can be contracted on the Yucatan peninsula so it pays to be cautious. Malaria is not common in the Merida area, but travelers frequently go south to areas like Palenque and Xcalak or Chetumal where it is more common and return to Merida. Dengue fever and West Nile virus are common.*
Now that rains are falling in abundance, mosquito precautions should be on “high alert levels.” Check your screens. Use repellent. Drain standing water. Trim back over-grown plants.
Rather than keeping worn socks anywhere near the bedroom, closet or bathroom, now we’ll quickly put them in a hamper down the hall to avoid attracting infected mosquitoes into close proximity. Maybe some minty foot powder would be a good idea too?
(Yes, I realize most of us don’t wear socks all that often in sandalia land.)
* Yes, we know they are carried and spread by various different types of mosquitoes having different traits, etc, etc, etc. But infected mosquitoes being more attracted to dirty socks than “clean” mosquitoes is a good thing to know, regardless.