Back to Top Skip to main content

Tackling mosquitos to protect the force

Man emptying bag into a helicopter spreader A contractor loads mosquito control pellets onto a helicopter spreader for aerial spraying at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. (Photo by Marine Lance Cpl. Kerstin Roberts)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Bug-Borne Illnesses | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Warmer temperatures bring mosquitoes – and these pesky flying insects present a potential health hazard. Through biting, mosquitoes may transmit serious or even deadly illnesses.

According to experts including the World Health Organization, there's no evidence mosquitoes can transmit the COVID-19 virus. But mosquitoes are to blame for the spread of many other germs. West Nile is the most common virus spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mosquitoes also spread malaria. About 2,000 cases of this flu-like illness are diagnosed in the United States every year, according to the CDC. It can be severe and even lethal in young children, said Anne Radavich, chief of product development and education in the Entomological Sciences Division of the U.S. Army Public Health Center, or APHC.

Other ailments spread by mosquitoes include the dengue, yellow fever, Zika, and chikungunyaviruses.

"Vaccines are not available for many of the illnesses and diseases that mosquitoes spread," Radavich said. "So the best prevention is to control mosquitoes and eliminate their breeding habitat." June 21-27 marks National Mosquito Control Awareness Week.

The Department of Defense has enacted measures to protect the health of service members in parts of the world where mosquito-borne illnesses are common. Those steps include pretreating uniforms with permethrin, an insecticide that kills or repels mosquitoes. Permethrin also can be applied in the field to clothes and other items, but it should not be applied to skin.

Tests are being conducted on a possible replacement for permethrin, said James English, assistant professor in the Global Public Health Division, Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics, at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

"Permethrin in field uniforms works well to protect from mosquito bites; it's safe; and the formulation used in military uniforms has been providing safe, effective protection against disease vectors for nearly 30 years," English said. "But that doesn't mean we can't find something that works better or lasts longer."

English added that permethrin has been used all over the world against agricultural pests, and that has caused resistance to occur in mosquitoes in some locations.

"If and when we change to a new active ingredient or a new method of protection, it will be because we found something that is more effective, lasts longer in the uniform and doesn't wash out or wear off as quickly; that the method has a better risk profile for the wearer, the environment or the people who apply it; or that the new protection method is the next step in the dance to avoid resistance in the target disease vectors," he said.

Other steps in the DoD repellant system include protecting exposed skin using insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 as the active ingredient. All three can be used on skin or clothing, Radavich said. These products are available in a variety of forms including liquids, lotions, and sprays.

At home, look for ways to eliminate spots where mosquitoes lay their eggs, experts say.  Some mosquitoes breed in outdoor containers with standing water, including flowerpot saucers, birdbaths, and trash can lids.

“They can breed in something as small as a bottle cap with a few drops of water in it,” Radavich said.

Army entomologists invented the Trap-N-Kill. Users place a plastic pesticide strip inside the approximately 8-inch-tall, cylinder-shaped device and then fill with water. Mosquitoes looking for a place to lay their eggs enter through a small hole in the front. The pesticide strip fatally poisons them and any larvae that hatch from the eggs.

Trap-N-Kill became available to DoD personnel through the military supply system starting in 2014. It’s also available through a commercial licensing agreement at civilian retail locations. APHC and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research jointly hold the patent on the device, Radavich said.

A fact sheet available from APHC offers more information about controlling mosquitoes around the home.

You also may be interested in...

Confronting the Coronavirus and Countering Complacency

Article
7/2/2020
Masked Navy members consult clipboard.

Call it the COVID-19 complacency conundrum.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Pentagon leaders brief department's COVID-19 response to reporters

Article
7/2/2020
Three men sit at blue table with American Flag and Pentagon symbol behind them.

The COVID-19 pandemic affects each area of the nation differently. Local leaders at military installations decide protocols for public safety on a case-by-case basis. The Military Health System supports those leaders by providing health surveillance data, updated to reflect current information.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

BAMC Change of Command 2020

Article
7/1/2020
Two masked soldier display an award in front of flags.

Army Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Wendy Harter, the first female commander in Brooke Army Medical Center’s history, turned over command to Army Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Shan Bagby, the first African American commander in BAMC’s history during a June 26 change of command ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

COVID-19 leads to innovation in military health care practices

Article
7/1/2020
Man in lab coat and mask prepares sample for COVID-19 testing.

MHS thinks outside of the box to bring care to patients during pandemic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Research and Innovation

The role of data in the war against COVID-19

Article
6/29/2020
Clinician with mask looks at computer screen at a hospital.

How DoD’s COVID-19 registry supports readiness and health

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

How the military stays ready during disease outbreaks

Article
6/29/2020
Headshot of Dr. Sanchez

A Q&A with a health surveillance professional at Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Coronavirus

Summer PCS plans altered by COVID-19

Article
6/29/2020
Man wearing mask loading boxes into a car

Service members and families have suggestions to keep you safe.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Summer Safety

BACH Civilian earns RHC-A Civilian of the Year

Article
6/26/2020
Soldier and woman standing by two flags, crossed.

[Guidry] will advance to the U.S. Army’s Medical Command (MEDCOM) Civilian of the Year competition later this year.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Health Readiness | Combat Support

DoD trains staff to collect convalescent plasma donations

Article
6/26/2020
A service member donates convalescent plasma at a blood donation center.

Learn about training features, locations, timetable

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

Navy entomologist conducts vector surveillance throughout Asia

Article
6/25/2020
Soldier crouching down outside looking at the ground

The goal is to help prevent diseases outbreaks in the military population.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch

MHS Minute: DoD Focused on COVID-19 Testing and Treatment

Video
6/25/2020
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

Have you recovered from COVID-19, or tested positive for antibodies? Consider donating convalescent plasma. To learn how, go to https://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Army 2nd Lt. first to donate convalescent plasma at Benning

Article
6/24/2020
Soldier in chair, giving blood

Convalescent plasma contains antibodies to fight the disease.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

Pharmacy Operations Division (POD) Reverse HPCON Status Guidance

Publication
6/24/2020

Guidance for Outpatient MTF Pharmacies in Response to COVID-19

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID Pharmacy Guidance

Download Letter to Beneficiaries

Publication
6/24/2020

This message replaces guidance issued on March 31. It explains actions military pharmacies are taking to keep services and visits safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it outlines your pharmacy options as a TRICARE beneficiary.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID Pharmacy Guidance | TRICARE Health Program

DHA’s new MEDLOG IT PMO supports MHS logistics

Article
6/23/2020
Soldiers loading boxes onto helicopter

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the MEDLOG IT PMO provided essential medical logistics IT and supply chain support across the MHS and Department of Defense.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Solution Delivery Division
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 16

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.