Malaria Virus Induces Change to its Hosts Body Odor

Published Date : Jul 02, 2014

Malaria viruses can change the body odor of mice, a new research study suggests. Researchers believe that the virus may change odor of its host’s body so as to help themselves survive through a key stage in their reproduction. The scent was also found to have persisted during the stage when mice showed no symptoms of the illness but were infected with it. 

Scientists are now working on further trials to see whether or not malaria viruses induce such different odor in humans as well. 

The aforementioned research on mice was undertaken jointly in the Pennsylvania State University and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The research studied the odor in mice with and without the infection of malaria virus for 45 days. It was found that the odor in mice with malaria infection was remarkably different than the non-infected ones. 

However, the change in smell did not completely alter the natural smell of mice – it instead changed in the terms of level of various compounds present in its natural composition. This was particularly noticeable in the mice that were infected but did not show symptoms. 

This stage, where the virus still inhibits its host’s body but do not induce any visible symptoms, corresponds to a very crucial time in the life cycle of the virus. It is the time when the virus needs to be passed back to the mosquitoes so as to continue reproducing. 

At this stage, mosquitoes are seen to be more attracted to the mice studied for the experiment. Researchers believe that the malaria virus may induce the change in odor in its host’s body to ensure continued survival.