• A new way to keep mosquitoes from biting this summer

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    The mosquitoes are coming out in full force this summer in Pittsburgh, but what would it be like if they couldn't bite? The key could be human diet drugs, according to one new study. 

    Only female mosquitoes bite, and they may bite several people before using the protein in our blood to develop eggs.

    Dr. Laura Duvall is a researcher at Rockefeller University in New York City. She knows mosquitoes can reach a point when they're full.

    "They're using similar pathways to the one you or I would experience after we've had basically Thanksgiving dinner," she said.


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    Duvall found she can turn on a receptor that prevents mosquitoes from biting by doing something simple: Feeding the bugs a human diet drug.

    She showed us video of a mosquito drinking sheep's blood and diet drugs from an artificial feeder.

    "The idea is if we find ways to turn this pathway on, then we can fool a hungry mosquito into acting like she's already had a blood meal and lose interest in biting people," she said.

    Mosquitoes carry diseases such as the Zika virus, malaria, Rift Valley fever and the one we all know, the West Nile virus. That disease was reported in every county in our area last summer.

    "You might imagine one of these artificial feeders may be in your backyard, you know, maybe a 100 yards away from your barbecue," Duvall said. "All the mosquitoes are attracted to this feeder and choose that instead of you."

    Duvall says right now the drugs wear off after about three days, but part of the research is working to find a way to make it last longer and to make it cheaper for us.


     

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