Got stinky feet? Aside from lowering your chances of finding and keeping a mate, you probably get bitten by mosquitoes a lot. Okay, I’m joking about the mating thing, but the mosquitoes is true–so says a recent study out of Africa that showed mosquitoes are attracted to the musky odor of human feet. The results are so promising that the Gates Foundation will fund a further project out of Tanzania to determine how traps can be produced affordably, and how they can be used to fight malaria.
Researchers from Tanzania’s Ifakara Health Institute replicated the smell of stinky socks, following the observation that mosquitoes were attracted to smelly feet (made by a Dutch scientist in another study). Using a careful blend of eight chemicals (one a poison to kill the suckers), the odor proved to attract four times more mosquitoes than a human volunteer, and the poison killed 95% of them (not the volunteer). Booyah!
Although the global infection rate of malaria is going down, there are still more than 220 million new cases each year. The U.N. estimates almost 800,000 of those people die. Most of them are children in Africa.
The research team initially received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for $100,000 two years ago. The project has now been awarded an additional $775,000.
Not bad, and you thought stinky feet weren’t good for anything. Well, it appears that even foot-brie can play a role in planetary betterment. Just goes to show you how one man’s curse can be another man’s pesticide.