What If Your Blood Could Kill Mosquitoes?

By Nathaniel Scharping | April 2, 2018 4:29 pm
(Credit: frank60/Shutterstock)

(Credit: frank60/Shutterstock)

A commonly used anti-parasite drug could be the next weapon in the fight against malaria.

Researchers from Kenya and the United Kingdom report that dosing people with ivermectin, commonly used in heartworm pills, makes them deadly targets for the mosquitoes that transmit malaria. Nearly all of the mosquitoes in the experiment died after drinking ivermectin-laced blood, they say.

Deadly Blood

While malaria rates have been dropping historically, the disease still afflicts over 200 million people a year, mostly in the developing world, and was responsible for nearly half a million deaths in 2015, according to the WHO. And there are worries that resistance to artemisinin, the drug of choice for combating malaria, could continue to spread beyond southeast Asia, where most resistant strains are currently found.

Ivermectin could be another solution, and one that’s easily applicable given the prevalence of the drug. In the study, published last month in The Lancet, the researchers gave 47 malaria patients 600-milligram doses of ivermectin for three consecutive days. That’s around three times the normal dose, but the drug possesses few side effects, and had already been shown to be deadly to mosquitoes when in the bloodstream.

After feeding blood from the patients to mosquitoes, the researchers report that 97 percent of the blood-suckers died after two weeks, and the blood remained deadly for up to 28 days. The patients, meanwhile reported little in the way of side effects. A separate group of patients received doses of 300 mg per day, but the mosquito-killing effect wasn’t as strong.

It remains to be seen how safe the drug is for children at such high doses, and the authors do note that their participants were all malaria patients, so the effects could differ in healthy people. And worries of drug resistance could hound ivermectin as well — if it begins to see widespread use, mosquitoes may begin to evolve immunity. Further studies will be needed, NPR reports, and would likely be only part of an effective campaign to eradicate malaria.

Nevertheless, the drug represents a cheap, easily obtainable method of mosquito control that could help curtail the spread of one of the world’s most deadly diseases.

And becoming a mosquito-killing machine? That’s just extra.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
  • FluffyGhostKitten

    It may be harmless to people, but Ivermectin is infamous for harming other mammals, including some dogs.

    • lump1

      You may have just answered the question I wanted to ask, which is: Why can’t we just pump this stuff into animals that mosquitoes like to bite? Still, it would be strange if we were the only animal unharmed by Ivermectin.

      • FluffyGhostKitten

        As far as I know, only some dogs are vulnerable, mostly collie breeds. That’s why it’s in heartworm meds (the only alternative is arsenic, so you can see why vets are willing to gamble). Some animals can tolerate it, such as horses, but I’m worried about the potential for environmental contamination, like what happened with brodifacoum in California.

  • Mike Richardson

    Considering how tough mosquitoes are, I’d be hesitant to put anything strong enough to kill them in my bloodstream.

  • TLongmire

    Mosquitoes love me and for that reason I know they could be baited to a big pulsating vein where very little could do very much for more.

  • OWilson

    Some 1,000,000 people, mostly third world children, die every year from Malaria (WHO)

    That’s 60,000,000 since Rachael Carson’s “Silent Spring” sparked Western environmentalists to demand the banning of DDT.

    (About the same number of U.S. abortions since Roe vs Wade)

    These are victims who have no voices in the MSM and are meaningless statistics to today’s Kardashian society.

    The science?

    “(A panel of expert environmental) scientists reported that DDT “MAY” have a variety of human health effects, including reduced fertility, genital birth defects, breast cancer, diabetes and damage to developing brains. Its metabolite, DDE, “CAN” block male hormones.

    ” “Based on recent studies, we conclude that humans are exposed to DDT and DDE, that indoor residual spraying “CAN” result in substantial exposure and that DDT “MAY” pose a risk for human populations,” the scientists wrote in their consensus statement, published online today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives”. – Should DDT be Used to Combat Malaria? – Scientific American.

    (Punctuation and caps mine)

    Say what?

    If those California scientists lived with their families in Africa, instead of LA, would they have the same attitude?

    Time to get serious about the real “health effects” of Malaria!

    • TLongmire

      Poisoning everyone and everything in the environment to save <1% is not intelligent in the least. In my experience mosquitoes inject you then suck the blood and injected fluid out. Unless you allow them to finish their meal no matter how much poison you have to kill them they will infect you first.

      • OWilson

        Referring to those millions of children who die from Malaria, as merely third world “<1%" just makes my point!

        • TLongmire

          The fact that humans still die from a mosquito bite makes me not want to be reincarnated in this shitshow.

        • Bharati_shahida

          Lived in E Africa and LOVED it. Every bit! Ate brewer’s yeast tablets and that kept mosquitoes away. May be anecdotal.

          • OWilson

            Good for you!

            I have defied the conventional wisdom by ignoring the fear mongers, and am living a long, productive and happy life!

            An occasional beer, coffee, soda, and cigarette, burger, fried chicken and I never felt better!

            But I would never tell others how to live! It’s their one life!

    • Kevin Mc

      Of course you LEFT OUT why Carson WROTE “Silent Spring”! Perhaps in your comment you could habe mentioned it was killing off many bird species, which is the reason for her title. You also conveniently left off the rising rates of DDT found in breast milk. Next time you post, perhaps 2 might try to sound a lttle less one sided and perhaps less people would conclude that you are a moron.

      • OWilson

        Mother Nature herself continues to kill off 99% of species that ever lived!

        I’m on the “side” of the 1,000,000 people that die from Malaria every year, mostly children.

        But children are so dispensible to progressives!

        They are just “foreign” statistics, or inconvenient fetal tissue, to their mothers who conceived them! :)

        • Kevin Mc

          “Mother Nature herself continues to kill off 99% of species that ever lived!” Is simply one of the most moronic replies I have ever heard. Advocating for a widespread DDT usage is ridiculous, It seems like you think that it will solve the problem, except that it been proven that it won’t, and killing the birds off only INCREASED the number of mosquitoes. Perhaps you should do some research before posting nonsense.

          I am also on the side of the people dying from Malaria, in fact I worked at the CDC on a Malaria project. What have you personally done!

          • OWilson

            Given a voice to those 120,000,000 who have died due to “progressive” policies?

            Which makes Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot look like pikers!

          • Mike Richardson

            Yes, and you just have to love how he drags abortion, a completely unrelated and deliberately inflammatory topic into the discussion. Stuff like that is what got him banned from another one of the blogs hosted here. But I’m glad you kept to the topic, and provided a little exposition on why DDT was banned. Mosquitoes are a problem where I live, and carry West Nile virus, which has proven deadly to young children and the elderly. But there are plenty of ways to address this problem without indiscriminately pouring poison into the air and water. Considering those options hardly means you consider children “dispensible”[sic]. That’s just crazy talk.

          • OWilson

            The post you so breathlessly upticked, “dragged in” the “deliberately inflammatory” ad hominen “MORON”.

            In your haste to find a new friend, you must have overlooked that, Mikey!

            You yourself added, “CRAZY”!

            (Bye the way, I am not “BANNED”, from anywhere. Tom says my “temporary time out” ended today)

            Now y’all settle down and act like grown ups, ya hear?


          • Brian Wilson

            Mikey has more than one friend. It’s just that most of us read your crap and don’t bother to respond. What good would it do? You live in your own world, I’m content to leave you there.

          • OWilson

            Somewhere it says on DISQUS that I got at least 18,818 folks who bothered to respond positively.

            You got 1, paleface!

            From your new friend Mikey!

            Congratulations! :)

          • Mike Richardson

            Oooh, Mr. Popular is picking on the new kid in school! 😂

            He just started posting, Sherlock.

            Man, you’re still bragging about all the upticks you got, primarily on political blogs, for posting manure that draws dittoheads like flies. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how many down votes you’ve gotten over the years? Probably an even more impressive number. It’s just gone up by one. 😉

          • OWilson

            Bye, trollettes! :)

          • GridUser

            Make that two!

          • Mike Richardson

            I just love the irony of being advised to “act like grownups” immediately after you proudly announced you’re coming out of “temporary time out” imposed by a moderator for your own less-than-mature behavior. Since that behavior hasn’t changed, we’ll have to see how long it takes you to earn another time out. As for DDT, I’m beginning to suspect there needs to be further research into the long-term neurological and psychological effects on those who fondly remember inhaling it as children.

          • Jamie sorensen

            Eliminate them for the sake ok animals . They are the ones that suffer from these worthless things.

  • Joe

    But, you still have to get bit by the mosquitos. And, that can still be painful. And, you could still be infected with malaria in the process. There needs to be some kind of medicine that will actually repel the mosquitos, full-time, around the clock. It would be great if there was some type of food, or medicine, that would give off some type of odor to repulse the mosquitos. Like garlic to a vampire! LOL…

  • Dawn Miller

    Eat sauted garlic cloves. Just a two or three. Cook them in butter. I tried it and it considerably reduced the number of bites. I am delicious to mosquitoes and live where they abound. The disadvantage of garlic munching is 1. social and 2. cause constipation. Worth the trouble.

    • Lee Riffee

      Garlic is indeed a great skeeter repeller. One summer I took a non-deodorized garlic supplement and I didn’t even have to use any bug repellent. However, people close to me did complain loudly about my breath, so I switched to deodorized garlic (was taking it for health reasons unrelated to mosquito bites).

  • JohnBoy

    Hopefully the invermectin will make them infertile well before it kills them? Otherwise how many “kids” could a mosquito “have” before it dies from invermectin?
    The search for something equally deadly to mosquitoes that animals could ingest safely could be a worthwhile search, but it would have to be at a university department – The drug companies wouldn’t get involved.

    • GridUser

      JohnBoy, maybe that’s the case nowadays, but it wasn’t always so. I worked for the drug company Merck back in the 1980’s when they developed, obtained FDA approval for, and sold ivermectin, which they called Mectizan. It was developed as an anti-parasitic for cattle and horses (and possibly swine & chickens, too – I can’t remember). While awaiting FDA approval, Merck researchers found that Mectizan was also effective against Onchocerca volvulus, the causative agent in onchocerciasis, aka African River Blindness. Onchocerciasis was, at least at that time, the leading cause of blindness in the world. Like malaria from the “bite” of mosquitos, Onchocerca is introduced by the bite of black flies that hang around by rivers (in Africa). From there, it gets into the bloodstream, and finally makes it to the eyeball, where it grows, causing blindness. I remember seeing a heartbreaking picture of a small African child, maybe 4 or 5 years old, holding hands with his blind older brother and guiding him thru the grass along the river bank, unquestionably picking up the worms himself.

      Ivermectin was effective against Onchocerca and could be given as a ONE TIME, single, ORAL dose. Merck then partnered with the W.H.O. to treat as many people as they could in these poor countries. Not only did Merck work with the W.H.O. to set up a way to treat the at-risk populations, they also gave the medicine away.

      I remember feeling, justifiably, proud of the company and how they gave the medicine away and didn’t try to grab media attention for it. They did it because it was the right thing to do. As bad as drug companies may be perceived nowadays, the Mectizan Donation Program was a ground-breaking public health achievement. There is a great article in the 2005 issue of The Stanford Social Innovation Review, if you’re interested.

      • OWilson

        Drug companies, like oil companies, generally get a bum rap from the leftist Fake News Media.

        How many people in the U.S. and the world rely on drugs to keep them healthy, pain free, and even alive?

        How many of you in the U.S. depend on the efficient delivery of oil and gas for your homes, cars, transportation, emergency vehicles?

        How about that computer and new TV?

        How does your corner supermarket keep everything in stock from around the world?

  • Jamie sorensen

    Please give it to animals. They are miserable with the damn mosquitoes and are sometimes killed by too many bites. Better yet completely eradicate the totally worthless things.

    • Maia

      Mosquitoes are far from “totally worthless”, they are a large part of the diets of birds, bats, reptiles and others.Eliminating the disease, not the insect, is the proper goal. Ecosystems are tightly inter-related, as we all ought to know by now, so that you cannot remove a “piece” like a lego-toy and everything will be just fine.We humans have done enough of this kind of blundering fix-it stuff!

  • Steve Dufour

    I also had the thought that the people being bit could still get malaria from those bites, even if the mosquitoes did die later.

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