Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why Are Mosquitoes More Attracted To Some People

While I was waiting for my cousin to pick me up from the train station the other day, I was thinking, "why are mosquitoes more attracted to some people compare to other?" I am someone who have always attracted more mosquito bites than most of my friends. It must be because I smell better, look better (I'm kidding on this) and 'taste' better. Is mosquito ever choosy on its food? That I could not answer on their behalf although my name was being associated with mosquito once in a while when I was young. However, there has been a study that shown that mosquitoes are particularly attracted to people infected with the transmissible forms of malaria than to those infected with non-transmissible forms of the disease or to unaffected people.

How does a mosquito find its target?
According to a BBC news, a team led by Rockefeller University has found that mosquitoes target exhaled breath using protein receptors in the structure extending from their jaws. The lead researcher Professor Leslie Vosshall said: "Insects are especially sensitive to carbon dioxide, using it to track food sources and assess their surrounding environment." This would be an important discovery as at least one million people die of malaria world wide each year.

Besides carbon dioxide, let us take a look at other factors that lure the mosquitoes to us:

  • Lactic acid that is released during exercise or consuming particular food.
  • Body heat.
  • Dark-coloured clothing (this together with body heat could be two major contributing factors to more bites for me as I like to wear black tee-shirt and I have high body heat).
  • Perfumes, used in a range of body care products (e.g. shampoo, body shower cream, body lotion), also help mosquitoes identify a target.
A combination of these factors could be the reasons why mosquitoes are more attracted to some people than others. There are some other interesting theories as to why some people get more mosquito bites.

Some theories involving gender were proposed and then discarded. One theory said that women were more likely to be bitten than men because mosquitoes are repelled by the strong odour of human sweat. Women who are deem to 'smell' better than men received greater attention from men. However, some men are bitten more than some women (and vice verse).

Another funny theory said that mosquitoes prefer thin-skinned people and thus women get bites more because women generally have thinner skin than men.

Third, it was theorised that women had some secret hormonal attractant that brought them to the attention of mosquitoes more than men. Even menstruation and ovulation could be factors in this. But such an attractant was never found. Gender does not now seem to be the all-important factor in mosquito "bite" susceptibility, according to The Register.

One interesting factor that caught my attention especially was about banana; since I love to eat banana. It was said that if you like to eat banana, you will tend to attract more mosquitoes. There is no scientific proof to confirm the connection however. It was speculated that eating of banana released scent of banana that seeps from your pores when you sweat and that attracted the mosquitoes, which can "smell" its human blood meal from a distance of up to 50 kilometres (30 miles) away. This was immediately refuted by some who said that it did not work for them as they do not take bananas but still end up with more mosquito bites.

In so speaking, how do you know if you have a higher risk of being a target, and just what kind of people the mosquito is most attracted to? "That's a hard one to answer," says Professor Andrew Spielman of the Harvard School of Public Health, and one of the world's leading experts on the mosquito. The combination of the reasons above of how mosquitoes find their targets could be why some people are more prone to bites than to other. If you are one of those getting more bites, you might want to see which of the above reason/s that could contribute to you getting more bites. Since it has been said that diet may be one of the contributing factors, you may like to think about what are the food that you are taking more compare to others.

Until there is a confirmed report of why mosquitoes are more attracted to some people than others, the only thing we can do for ourselves now is to equip ourselves with a good insect repellent especially if we expect mosquitoes in the places that we are heading to.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Could You Have Been a Millionaire Too?

As I was lying in my bed last night, I was hit by a sudden thought, "I could have already been a millionaire many times and I could be ... I would have been on my way to be a billionaire." How is that possible? Just through reading my email. Yes ... just as simple as that. Easy money right? Almost right, easy money but easy way to lose our money! Having been on the Internet for years now, I have seen how their email evolving and getting more and more creative each day.

Just yesterday I received yet another scam email with the subject line, "YAHOO INTERNET LOTTERY" and I thought, "so now Yahoo is giving away money?" Such email should have ended up in the Spam folder but somehow it sneaked into my Inbox. Trying to amuse myself, I opened up the email and read it.
So they weren't kidding when they put "YAHOO INTERNET LOTTERY" in the subject line. I did win the YAHOO INTERNET LOTTERY or did I? As you can see, the email even comes with Yahoo! logo to make it all appeared legitimate and real. Apparently, Internet scam is here to stay and they undergo constant changes to keep up with time. On one hand, I have to say that whoever is coming up with this email did put in some effort to make this email appeared to be from a reliable source. At the end of the email, there was even a photo of a guy (which is something new to me) who signed off as Mr. James Walker LOTTO CO-COORDINATOR, The staff. On the other hand, I really wondered, "Could this creativity be put to better use than to try to cheat people of their money?" It certainly can! If one is new to the Internet, one may have fall for this.

Some people may say, "Serve them right for being greedy and for being stupid to fall for this old trick. They deserve it!" Maybe they are right to say so. Pardon me that I was once like them and had the same thought. The number one factor why these Internet scams continue to work could be greed but these scams also prey on people who are ignorant and hopeful. Although more and more people are becoming Internet savvy, there are still a small number of people who are naive and maybe one would call them virgin Internet user. Everyday, there will bound to be new user of the Internet. There are some people who are just simply hopeful that these scams are real.

How does these Internet Scams work?

Usually they would explain the nature of the draw and how you had ended up as one of the winners. In this email which I received, they explained, "YAHOO, collects all the mail ID of the people that are online on yahoo messenger, among the millions that subscribe to yahoo messenger we only select five people every month as our winners through electronic balloting System without the winner applying, we are congratulating you for been one of the people selected." A ticket number would also be provided to one and one will be told to contact the agent as soon as possible with one's details like name, address, telephone number, email, ticket number etc.

One would also be told to keep the information confidential from public until the claim was processed and the prize released. These Internet scams even answered your doubt of why you shouldn't inform anyone. They said, "This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming and unwarranted taking advantage of this programme by non-participant or unofficial personnel." Naturally one will follow their instructions.

Upon contacting the agent involved, he/she would explain to you the whole procedure of claiming the prize until a point of time they would ask you to remit a certain sum of money for the legal processing fee or priority mailing fee to send you the money order or cheque securely. How I know? Of course I tried it out. When I am in the mood to play with the agent, I would tease him/her and tell him/her to deduct the fee from my winning prize or to help me pay for the fee first and I will give him/her 10% of the winning. It is always entertaining to see the replies.

With the Internet becoming so common nowadays, such Internet scams are also becoming very common. As long as you have an email, you will bound to receive such scams once in a while. The best thing to do is not to do anything and just put them into the trash folder.

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