Are You Pestered by Mosquitoes? If so, Blame Your Ancestors. It’s in Your Genes.

A study conducted by scientists at Pfizer Inc. and 23andMe and published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics, found 15 genetic variants associated with the size of welts left behind from mosquito bites, the intensity of itch, as well as how attractive some of us are to the insects.

The study looked at several mosquito bite traits together, and the researchers found overlapping genetic associations for each. Among the findings, the analysis in this study suggested that genetics play a slightly stronger role in how attractive a person is to mosquitoes.

You can read a lot more about this study on an article in the 23andMe Blog at http://bit.ly/2rI78pM.

4 Comments

The little buggers are definitely selective! ONE advantage of being on chemo – one summer 20+ years ago when I was on it the mosquitos avoided me completely even when others around me were constantly fighting them off.

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The 123andme blog entry includes this gem: “In addition, mosquitoes are one of the deadliest creatures on earth, contributing to hundreds of millions of deaths every year due to transmission of diseases such as Dengue fever, West Nile Virus, Zika and malaria.”

“Hundreds of millions of deaths” sounded incredibly unlikely. Turns out, it is.

According to the World Health Organization, “Of the 56.4 million deaths worldwide in 2015, more than half (54%) were due to the top 10 causes. Ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the world’s biggest killers, accounting for a combined 15 million deaths in 2015. These diseases have remained the leading causes of death globally in the last 15 years.”

The WHO’s top-ten list included about 1.4 million deaths in 2015 that were caused by diseases that might be borne by mosquitoes. Even assuming that other mosquito-related deaths occur outside the top ten, the total will be a small percentage of “hundreds of millions”.

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Where I live in Florida we have salt water and fresh water mosquitoes. The salt water are smaller. As of this year I have only seen salt water. The rise in malaria has co-insided with the banning of DDT.

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Interesting. My husband was not bothered by mosquitoes. He evidently inherited this trait from his maternal grandfather, who survived malaria epidemics in Mississippi in the early 1900s.

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