Better to brush than to crush

| 8/3/2004

The next time a mosquito flies in the window of your cab to use you as an all-you-can-eat buffet, don’t swat, squash or otherwise crush the irritating critter. It may be better, scientists say, to flick it off.

Scientists writing in the New England Journal of Medicine offered the advice recently after studying the case of a 57-year-old woman who became infected in November 2002 with a fungus called brachiola algerae.

The woman was taking drugs for rheumatoidarthritis that weakened her immune system, which made her more susceptible to the infection. However, normally, that fungus does not infect people, and cannot under normal circumstances be transferred from mosquitoes to people.

Doctors concluded that the woman contracted the illness when she crushed a mosquito as it was biting her, forcing the fungus, which was in the insect’s internal organ, into the bite wound.

"I think if a mosquito was in mid-bite, it would be wiser to flick the mosquito off rather than squashing it," an authors of the study, Christina Coyle of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, told The Associated Press.