Attraction of mosquitoes to primate odours and implications for zoonotic Plasmodium transmission

Bakker, J.W.; Loy, D.E.; Takken, W.; Hahn, B.H.; Verhulst, N.O.


Vector-borne diseases often originate from wildlife and can spill over into the human population. One of the most important determinants of vector-borne disease transmission is the host preference of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes with a specialised host preference are guided by body odours to find their hosts in addition to carbon dioxide. Little is known about the role of mosquito host preference in the spillover of pathogenic agents from humans towards animals and vice versa. In the Republic of Congo, the attraction of mosquitoes to primate host odours was determined, as well as their possible role as malaria vectors, using odour-baited traps mimicking the potential hosts of mosquitoes. Most of the mosquito species caught showed a generalistic host preference. Anopheles obscurus was the most abundant Anopheles mosquito, with a generalistic host preference observed from the olfactory response and the detection of various Plasmodium parasites. Interestingly, Culex decens showed a much higher attraction towards chimpanzee odours than to human or cow odours. Human Plasmodium parasites were observed in both human and chimpanzee blood, although not in the Anopheles mosquitoes that were collected. Understanding the role of mosquito host preference for cross-species parasite transmission provides information that will help to determine the risk of spillover of vector-borne diseases.