Scientists have discovered that the odour from a live chicken could help protect against malaria.
Ethiopian and Swedish scientists discovered that mosquitoes carrying the malaria parasites tend to avoid chickens and other birds.
The experiments, conducted in western Ethiopia, included suspending a live chicken in a cage near a volunteer sleeping under a bed net.
According to the United Nations report, malaria killed nearly 400,000 people in Africa last year alone.
Infection and death rates are declining but health officials are continuing to look for new ways to prevent the spread of the disease.
The malaria parasite initially resides in the liver of the host before replicating and then entering into the bloodstream.
It is then transferred from person to person by mosquitoes when they suck infected blood.
The scientists, whose research was published in the Malaria Journal, concluded that as mosquitoes use their sense of smell to locate an animal they can bite, there must be something in a chicken’s odour that puts the insects off.
Addis Ababa University’s Habte Tekie, who worked on the research, said that the compounds from the smell of the chicken can be extracted and could work as a mosquito repellent.
Chicken Smell Can Stop Malaria
According to a statement Mr Tekie made to the BBC, field trials for this stage of the research are now in the pipeline.
Researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences were also involved in the project.
Compounds extracted from chicken feathers were also used in the experiments, as well as live chickens.
Researchers discovered that the use of chicken and the compounds associated “significantly reduced” the number of mosquitoes that were found in the trap nearby.
The scientists say that with reports that some mosquitoes are developing resistance to insecticide new, more innovative control methods need to be embraced.