iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Hot and humid summers mean mosquitoes. And the annoying insects spread more than just itchy welts — they can transmit painful and sometimes deadly diseases.

At least 497 people in the continental U.S. as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have contracted the chikungunya virus so far this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — 140 of them in the past week alone.

For most of us, mosquito bites are just a nuisance. And some people have it worse than others.

What makes a person end up as a mosquito magnet? Read on to learn how some seemingly harmless habits, like a daily run or a backyard beer, could make you a more appetizing target:

Carbon Dioxide

It turns out that mosquitoes don’t bite randomly. Instead, they hone in on a victim by following a steady output of carbon dioxide.

Richard Pollack, an instructor at the Harvard school of public health and adviser to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, said mosquitoes are adept at figuring out where their target is by following these exhaled trails.

“If you were to exercise vigorously, you would produce more carbon dioxide for a brief period,” Pollack told ABC News. “You might [then] perhaps be a little more attractive to mosquitoes.”

Unfortunately, there’s no good way to cut down on carbon dioxide aside from holding your breath, Pollack said. So if you’re getting bitten, you might want to head inside.

Heat

While carbon dioxide is how mosquitoes lock onto you as a target, heat may be how they figure out where to bite you.

Dr. Jonathan Day, a professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida, said that before mosquitoes can take a bite they have to find an area of the body where the blood is close to the surface. Common areas include the forehead, wrists, elbows and neck.

However, people who are over heated or who just finished working out will have blood closer to the surface of the skin throughout their body.

“They use the heat to very quickly to determine where blood is closest to the surface,” said Day.

Your Outfit

If you’re heading to a picnic and looking to avoid becoming a mosquito’s meal, Day recommends avoiding any dark denim or all-black outfits.

“If you dress in dark colors you stand out against the horizon and mosquitoes [can see you],” said Day.

Day said some mosquitoes are visual hunters that search you out by looking for signs of life against the horizon. Movement can also draw the insects in, so hikers on the move should wear plenty of bug-repellent, he said.

Backyard Beers

A bottle of beer could make you a target for mosquitoes, a 2002 study found.

Researchers examined 13 brave volunteers exposed to mosquitoes before and after having a beer. The biting insects were much more interested in getting a meal after volunteers drank a single bottle of beer, according to the study.

Exhaled Chemicals

In addition to heat and carbon dioxide, mosquitoes are also attracted to naturally-occurring chemicals that are released as people breathe.

Day said carbon dioxide and heat will draw the mosquitoes to a crowd, but these chemicals, called secondary attractants, can lure the insects to one unlucky person at a barbecue.

The chemicals vary, but one is related to estrogen, which Day said could be the reason women are often bitten by mosquitoes.

How to Stop Mosquito Bites

Mosquitoes may be mean, biting machines, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Aside from wearing lighter colors and avoiding the outdoors at dawn and dusk, the CDC recommends the following tips to prevent bites:

  • Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin or IR3535. Some oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol products also provide protection.
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors and avoid outdoor activities between dusk and dawn — peak mosquito biting hours.
  • Mosquito-proof your home with screens and regularly remove standing water from birdbaths, gutters, pool covers and pet water dishes.

Pollack has one more recommendation: fans. The low-tech gadgets can break up carbon dioxide and throw mosquitoes off course. Since the insects are weak flyers, a strong breeze can render them unable to land.

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Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Though closing our eyes and drifting off into unconsciousness is one of the simplest tasks we perform each day, scientists are still trying to unravel why we sleep — and how we can do it better.

“For sure, it is tempting to decrease the amount of sleep (maybe along with an improved intensity of sleep) with the idea to increase the efficacy of our life,” Dr. Christoph Nissen, a sleep researcher at University Medical Center Freiburg in Germany told ABC News in an email.

Humans need an average of seven and a half hours of sleep per night, but some only need five hours and some need as many as 10 hours, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Though we understand sleep is vital to things from mood and memory to metabolic functioning and immune systems, it’s still not completely understood, and solving sleep disorders is critical, Nissen said.

Between artificial light, devices that keep us connected 24/7 and modern day societal demands, sleep isn’t what it used to be, researchers have claimed. So Nissen embarked on a study, which aired on German television, to see how five healthy adults would sleep in a Stone Age-like settlement.

The participants spent eight weeks in a settlement in Southern Germany, living in huts built on stilts with no electricity, running water or modern day conveniences like phones, according to the study. They gathered their own food each day and returned to their beds made of brushwood and furs each night. There were no torches or candles in the huts.

Nissen and his fellow researchers used sleep-tracking armbands to learn that the participants slept an average of 1.8 hours more each night than they did before going to the settlement.

“As a whole, these observations provide some experimental support for the long-held notion that people under prehistoric living conditions experienced prolonged sleep times compared to people under modern living conditions,” they wrote in the study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Though not exactly prehistoric, electricity pioneer Benjamin Franklin slept regularly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night, Mason Currey wrote in his book, Daily Rituals. (Franklin also enjoyed an “air bath” when he woke up each morning, in which he sat in his room naked for up to an hour, Currey said.)

But without electricity to provide artificial light, maybe it was easier for Franklin to live by his motto, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

After all, Thomas Edison wouldn’t patent the first practical light bulb until 1880.

Currey scoured biographies, interviews and other records to find out about the habits of some of the most influential minds throughout history, and said the most interesting sleep schedule belonged to Buckminster Fuller, an American architect, inventor and author.

In the 1930s, Fuller decided a normal night of sleep wasn’t working for him, so he decided to train himself to sleep only in 30-minute increments.

“He decided that normal human sleep patterns may no longer be practical for modern lifestyles,” Currey said. “He decided he could train himself to sleep less and have vastly more time to do work.”

So Fuller experimented with a concept he called “high frequency sleep,” in which he would work until he started to feel sleepy — about six hours — and then cat nap for about 30 minutes, Currey said. He would do this around the clock without ever stopping for a longer rest.

“The other funny thing is he apparently got so good at this he could go to sleep instantly,” Currey said. “People in the room with him would be sort of freaked out he had an off switch in his head.”

Of course, he eventually stopped doing it because his wife complained.

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Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Need some help losing weight? The diet program Weight Watchers and the weight loss drug Qsymia may provide the best bang for your buck, a new study found.

Researchers from Duke University compared the costs and effectiveness of three diet programs and three weight loss medications and found that Weight Watchers came out on top, with a price tag of $155 per kilogram lost.

“[Weight Watchers is] a program that holds you accountable,” said ABC News senior medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton. “Whether through their meal plans or through their meetings, this helps you stay on track.”

The average annual cost of Weight Watchers was $377, according to the study. Users lost an average of 2.4 kilograms or 5.3 pounds.

“It’s about restricting portion size,” Ashton said of the point system-based program. “It’s not about depriving you of food. That’s key.”

Qsymia was a close second, clocking in at $204 per kilo, according to the study. Ashton said some of her patients have had impressive results with the drug.

“They were obese to morbidly obese, and most lost significant weight,” she said.

Also included in the study were the weight loss drugs Vtrim at $213 per kilo, Lorcaserin at $545 per kilo, and Orlistat at $546 per kilo, as well as the diet program Jenny Craig, with an average cost effectiveness ranging from $338 to $424 per kilo, depending on the amount of food purchased.

But the price of dieting isn’t the only cost to consider, Ashton said, citing the emotional, psychological and social costs of obesity, which affects one in three American adults.

“We need to look at the big picture when we think as a nation of how to deal with the issue of obesity,” she said.

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — Heading to the office or heading back home after a long day at work aren’t the best conditions for socializing, particularly if you’re on the subway.

And while commuters are often wary about making any kind of eye contact with a stranger, Nicholas Epley, a professor at University of Chicago Booth School of Business, says it may be not be such a bad idea to open up a little bit, even if you think you might get ignored or even socked in the jaw.

Epley conducted a number of experiments on Chicago’s rail line in which participants at first believed that keeping to themselves would prove to make their commutes more enjoyable. They also expressed fear of speaking to someone, worried there’d be no reciprocation.

However, the dread they expressed appeared to melt away as the participants reported that socializing on the subway was easier than they had anticipated, saying that they liked initiating a conversation and being spoken to by a stranger.

For those still reluctant to make the leap, Epley suggests the more you socialize, the easier it will become.

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iStock/Thinkstock(IRVINE, Calif.) — Remember the last time you had a bad night’s sleep? If you can’t, it’s possible that your interrupted sleep contributed to your forgetfulness.

Researchers at Michigan State University and the University of California, Irvine conducted an experiment in which participants recalled details of a simulated burglary. Those deprived of sleep — from staying awake for 24 hours or even getting five or fewer hours of shut-eye — were much more likely to experience memory distortion.

While just an experiment, the MSU and UC-Irvine researchers say chronic sleep deprivation could have a dire effect on the criminal justice system, particularly when witnesses are asked to recall specific details about serious cases including murder investigations.

Besides memory distortions, health experts blame lack of sleep on a variety of other conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, not to mention causing vehicular accidents.

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Photodisc/Thinkstock(PROVO, Utah) — As the late football coach Vince Lombardi often said, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”

Lombardi particularly hated to lose, but usually didn’t overreact following a defeat, figuring the formula that generally proved successful shouldn’t be tampered with.

However, some coaches and business executives often make hasty decisions when things don’t go their way, sometimes resulting in more setbacks.

A Brigham Young University study bears this out. Co-author Brennan Platt says that he looked at data from NBA coaching decisions over two decades to determine how personnel was changed following a narrow victory or narrow loss.

Typically, lineups were more often adjusted after defeats than triumphs and that changes that weren’t well-thought-out resulted in at least one more loss per season.

Platt says this kind of thinking has adverse effects in the business world as well, with bosses sometimes overanalyzing an employee’s performance when things didn’t go right. Much of the time, a supervisor doesn’t take into account situations out of someone’s control, which can occasionally be chalked up to just plain bad luck.

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iStock/Thinkstock(SYDNEY) — Does weather have anything to do with lower back pain? Some people will swear it does, often blaming temperature changes, rainstorms, humidity or barometric pressure for their discomfort. But as it happens, they’re wrong, according to researchers from the Sydney Medical School.

To prove their point, they studied the records of close to a thousand people who had gone to see their doctors for pain in the lower back that had developed within the past 24 hours. Each was asked where they lived and exactly at what time their backs began aching.

Then, without the knowledge of the patients or doctors, the researchers crossed-referenced that information with weather data from the days back pain was reported.

The results? There was no pattern to show that rain, humidity or sudden temperature changes affected the back. However, the Sydney researchers did discover something quirky: for whatever reason, there were slightly more reports of back pain whenever higher wind and wind gust speeds occurred.

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Courtesy Scott Family(OTTOWA, Ontario) — Wyatt Scott turned a year old earlier this summer, but he ate his birthday dinner through a tube in his tummy.

It’s been more than four months since the Scott family launched WhatsWrongWithWyatt.com to find out why their baby boy can’t open his mouth, and though they’ve been flooded with emails, their little boy’s condition remains a mystery.

Wyatt’s lockjaw has baffled doctors since he was born in June 2013 in Ottawa, Canada, and though the Scott family has taken him to every specialist imaginable, they can’t figure out the root of the problem, Andrew Scott said. Wyatt spent the first three months of his life in the hospital, and his parents have had to call 911 several times because he’s been choking and unable to open his mouth.

So Wyatt’s mother, Amy, decided to create a website, WhatsWrongWithWyatt.com last spring in the hopes that someone would recognize the condition and offer a solution.

Wyatt’s doctor, Dr. J. P. Vaccani, told ABC News in April that the condition, congenital trismus, is rare and usually the result of a fused joint or extra band of tissue. But Wyatt’s CT and MRI scans appear to be normal.

“It’s an unusual situation where he can’t open his mouth, and there’s no kind of obvious reason for it,” Vaccani, a pediatric otolaryngologist at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario told ABC News. “Otherwise, he’s a healthy boy.”

Andrew Scott said he’s sifted through 500 emails submitted to WhatsWrongWithWyatt.com over the last several months, and compiled a list of the most important ideas to give to Wyatt’s doctors. One letter-writer from Virginia told the Scotts that Wyatt’s story made her cry because her now-14-year-old had similar mysterious symptoms.

“She could have written it herself,” Andrew Scott recalled her saying.

Though the Virginia 14-year-old underwent surgery and therapy, Andrew Scott said Wyatt seems to have something different.

“It’s not just that his mouth doesn’t open,” he said.

Wyatt underwent a study in which doctors X-rayed him while he was feeding to see how the muscles in his mouth and throat worked. They found that he has problems with motor function and swallowing in addition to the lockjaw.

“His blinking is erratic,” Andrew Scott added. “He’ll wink on one side a bunch, then the other side and back and forth.”

Their quest for answers has been slow. A recent muscle biopsy came back negative, and Wyatt is awaiting results of his third genetic test.

Since the website launched, Wyatt had a major health scare: he stole a piece of chicken off his mother’s plate and put it in his mouth, Andrew Scott said. His lips were parted just enough to get it in, but neither of his parents could get it out, so they pulled it out in pieces. They thought it was all gone when Wyatt fell asleep.

Then, Wyatt started choking.

“He almost died,” Andrew Scott said. “I ended up just giving him breath.”

Wyatt “came back” just as ambulances and fire trucks arrived, Andrew Scott said. At the hospital, doctors scoped Wyatt’s lungs, but he was still coughing up chicken pieces several days later.

The emergency forced doctors to use anesthesia to put Wyatt to sleep, which they were too afraid to do before because they feared he would stop breathing. While he was out for the lung scope, the also did a muscle biopsy and put in a G-tube. Now, instead of being fed through a tube in his nose that leads to his stomach, Wyatt can “eat” through a tube in his belly.

Wyatt’s birthday party at the end of June was a pig roast that drew 50 people and included a piñata, goats and a trampoline. Though Wyatt didn’t get any mashed-up pig in his G-tube, Andrew Scott said “maybe next time.” By the end of the party, Wyatt was sound asleep in the grass.

“He is a very happy baby,” he said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(YUMEN, China) — Parts of a city in northwestern China are in quarantine after a man died from bubonic plague last week, state media reported.

The 38-year-old victim had been in contact with a dead marmot, a type of rodent, according to the Xinhua news agency. Health officials and disease prevention specialists are in Yumen, in China’s Gansu Province, to prevent the plague from spreading.

Several parts of the city of more than 100,000 people are reportedly in quarantine, and 151 people who recently had contact with the victim are under isolation, the news agency said. No one has any symptoms of the plague, Xinhua reported.

Some reports claim the victim had chopped the squirrel-like rodent up to feed it to his dog, and later developed a fever. He died in a hospital on July 16.

Bubonic plague usually comes from an infected flea bite, which can live on rodents and other animals, according to the World Health Organization. Without immediate treatment, it is fatal in more than half of cases.

The plague is very rare but still present in mostly rural areas.

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iStock/Thinkstock(YUMEN, China) — Parts of a city in northwestern China are in quarantine after a man died from bubonic plague last week, state media reported.

The 38-year-old victim had been in contact with a dead marmot, a type of rodent, according to the Xinhua news agency. Health officials and disease prevention specialists are in Yumen, in China’s Gansu Province, to prevent the plague from spreading.

Several parts of the city of more than 100,000 people are reportedly in quarantine, and 151 people who recently had contact with the victim are under isolation, the news agency said. No one has any symptoms of the plague, Xinhua reported.

Some reports claim the victim had chopped the squirrel-like rodent up to feed it to his dog, and later developed a fever. He died in a hospital on July 16.

Bubonic plague usually comes from an infected flea bite, which can live on rodents and other animals, according to the World Health Organization. Without immediate treatment, it is fatal in more than half of cases.

The plague is very rare but still present in mostly rural areas.

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