LONDON (AP) - Researchers say dirty old socks could be the key to a more effective weapon against malarial mosquitos.

For decades, health officials have battled malaria with insecticides, bed nets and drugs. But now, researchers say they've found that mosquitoes infected with the tropical disease are more attracted to human odors from a dirty sock than mosquitoes that didn't carry malaria. Insects carrying malaria parasites were three times more likely to be drawn to the stinky stockings.

The new finding may help create traps that target only malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Lead researcher Dr. James Logan at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says, "Smelly feet have a use after all."

The findings were published last month in the journal, PLoS One.

Malaria is estimated to kill more than 600,000 people every year, mostly children in Africa.

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