Anyone who wants to enjoy a cold beer during the heatwave might want to spray on insect repellent first, after a study found it makes you more attractive to mosquitoes.
The insects are 15 per cent more likely to fly towards humans after they have consumed a pint or two, according to a study.
Drinking outside? At least one species of mosquito has been found to be attracted to the smell of alcohol on the breath
Researchers believe the pests are attracted to odour and breath changes caused by alcohol.
They added that mosquitoes could have learnt to associate the beer odour with an increased lack of defensiveness against bites from boozy drinkers.
The team, led by scientists at the IRD Research Centre in Montpellier, France, hope their findings will be used to help prevent malaria.
The disease is spread by mosquitoes and kills 780,000 people worldwide every year.
They tested their theory on 2,500 Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes in Burkino Faso, west Africa.
Writing in Plos One, they said: ‘To the best of our knowledge, this study provides the first evidence that beer consumption increases human attractiveness to An. gambiae, which is the principal vector of malaria in Africa.
‘Alcohol consumption is a widespread phenomenon throughout the world and represents one of the most pressing global health priorities.
‘The alcoholic beverage used in this experiment is a very popular drink in west Africa.
‘Therefore, the increased attractiveness following beer consumption found here raises crucial issues regarding strategic planning for malaria control.
‘Recent models have stressed that local malaria control can only be reached if people who are bitten the most can be identified.
‘By ascertaining beer consumption as a risk factor, our study has identified a potential underlying cause of heterogeneous biting, and hence provides insights into the feasibility of targeted interventions.’
The team used 25 volunteers aged between 20 and 43. They gave them one litre of their local brew, Dolo, before seeing how many mosquitoes would fly upwind towards them.
The insects, fed into a downwind box in batches of 50, were given the option of flying towards traps containing either open air or the human odour of the participant.
Researchers found that 47 per cent of mosquitoes were tempted to fly up into either trap after beer consumption – compared to just 35 per cent before beer.
And 65 per cent headed for the trap containing the human odour after beer, rather than just 50 per cent before it.
The scientists concluded that not only did the mosquitoes’ attraction to humans increase after beer, but so did their stimulation to fly up into either trap.
They conducted the same tests before and after volunteers had drunk one litre of water – but found minimal difference between the two.
Experts also dismissed a commonly-held link between higher body temperatures and higher attractiveness – as the beer consumption resulted in decreased temperatures.
They ordered that further tests be done after warning that alcohol could compromise the health of humans against parasites and diseases.
They concluded: ‘These results suggest that beer consumption is a risk factor for malaria and needs to be integrated into public health policies for the design of control measures.
‘We postulate that the metabolism of alcohol following beer consumption induces changes in breath and odour markers that increases attractiveness to An. gambiae.
‘Mosquitoes may have evolved preferences for people who recently consumed beer – possibly due to reduced host defensive behaviours or highly nutritious blood-meals.
‘The outlook may be even worse if we consider that alcohol contributes substantially to the global burden of diseases, especially by compromising the host immune defence against parasites.’
Unlike in the tropics, mosquitoes in the UK are not known to transmit any infections. In the U.S some species of mosquito carry encephalitis (brain inflammation), which afflicts around 100 Americans every year.


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