Scientists have come up with a surprising way to avoid getting malaria - sleeping with a chicken next to the bed. A study in Ethiopia found that while mosquitoes have a taste for human blood, they are repelled by the smell of chickens.
Cattle were the most fed upon animal outdoors with 63% of mosquitoes being found to have sucked their blood. Twenty per cent had sucked human blood with five per cent feeding on goats and 2.6% on sheep. The researchers found just one mosquito with chicken blood. The researchers identified four "chicken-specific compounds" - isobutyl butyrate, naphthalene, hexadecane and trans-limonene - found in their feathers that appeared to have a repellent effect. They also said the chicken feathers posed a physical barrier to mosquitoes and noted the birds "will actively feed on mosquitoes". Mosquito traps were set up in 11 homes for 11 days with a volunteer agreeing to sleep under an untreated bed net nearby. Significantly fewer mosquitoes were caught in traps baited with the chicken compounds.