Mosquitoes that carried malaria were especially attracted to foot odors from dirty socks. (Sang Tan/Associated Press)

Stinky feet may be a new weapon in the fight against a deadly disease, according to scientists.

Malaria, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, is usually fought with insect-killing chemicals, bed nets and drugs. Now, researchers found that mosquitoes infected with the disease were more attracted to human odors from a dirty sock than bugs that didn’t carry malaria.

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

“Smelly feet have a use after all,” said James Logan, who led the research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “Every time we identify a new part of how the malaria mosquito interacts with us, we’re one step closer to controlling it better.”

Very few cases of malaria have been reported in the United States since the 1950s, but the disease kills more than 600,000 people every year — mostly children in Africa.

— Associated Press