Smelly socks could help fight malaria

Non-profit organization Grand Challenges Canada helps fund a Tanzanian doctor who is developing a trap that attracts and kills malaria-spreading mosquitoes with the odour of smelly socks.

Canadian agency joins Bill & Melinda Gates to fund researcher in Tanzania

Mosquitos spread malaria, which kills about 800,000 people yearly. (Justin Sullivan/Getty )

The odour of smelly socks may save lives in Africa.

Not-for-profit funding organization Grand Challenges Canada  announced a grant Wednesday to help a Tanzanian doctor develop a trap that attracts and kills mosquitoes with the smell of dirty socks.

Mosquitoes spread malaria, which kills about 800,000 people every year, mostly children. About 90 per cent of those deaths are in Africa.

Dr. Fredros Okumu and his scientific team at the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania have learned that socks attract four times more mosquitoes than a human being.

Bed nets and spraying are frequently used indoors, but the trap could help guard against malaria outdoors.

The $775,000 grant is being jointly funded by Grand Challenges Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Grand Challenges Canada describes itself as a not-for-profit organization "dedicated to improving the health of people in developing countries through innovation."

Its chairman is Canadian financier and philanthropist Joseph L. Rotman.

With files from The Associated Press