A study by Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Addis Ababa University, reported in the open access Malaria Journal, has shown that malaria-transmitting mosquitoes actively avoid feeding on certain animal species such as chickens, using their sense of smell. The scientists say odours emitted by species such as chickens could provide protection for humans at risk of mosquito-transmitted diseases.
To find out which species the mosquitoes prefer, the research team collected data on the population of human and domestic animals in three Ethiopian villages. They also collected blood-fed mosquitoes to test for the source of the blood that the mosquitoes had fed on. People living in the areas in which the research was conducted share their living quarters with their livestock. The researchers found that while Anopheles arabiensis strongly prefers human over animal blood when seeking hosts indoors, it randomly feeds on cattle, goats and sheep when outdoors, but avoids chickens in both settings, despite their relatively high abundance.