Mosquitoes, covid-19 & dogs

In a ‘Zoom’ talk in January entitled “From mosquito bites to sniffer dogs” new BNSS member and volunteer, entomologist Dr. Sophie Wulff, gave us insight into the work going on at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). She started by describing what is known about how female mosquitoes detect humans in order to obtain their blood meal. She then went on to tell us about experimental work in Africa showing how the malaria parasite which is transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito can change human odour to make mosquitoes more attracted to malaria-infected children and potentially increase transmission. Since dogs have a sense of smell up many times better than us they have begun to be used by scientists to try and detect human diseases by odour. So far, there has been work on certain types of cancer, Type 1 diabetes and recently, and topically, on those infected with Covid-19. She described some ongoing trials involving LSHTM and Durham University (more detail here) and work published from France & Germany. Finland is currently using sniffer dogs at Helsinki airport in a test using swabs from passenger’s skin which takes only one minute (more here).