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...

LTG Place Vaccine Roll-Out Video

Video
1/18/2021
DHA Seal

DHA Director LTG Ron Place talks about coronavirus vaccines, their safety and efficacy, and encourages everyone to do their own research to get vaccinated.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

MHS Minute: December 2020

Video
12/28/2020
DHA Seal

See how MHS is leading a phased approach to offer 11.1 million Department of Defense personnel the first COVID-19 vaccines. To learn more about the safety and efficacy behind COVID-19 vaccines, go to: https://www.health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Combat-Support/Public-Health/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Vaccine-Efforts.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

MHS COVID Response

Video
12/21/2020
DHA Seal

The men and women of the Military Health System spent 2020 working to protect beneficiaries' health during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are just a few of our accomplishments.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Heroes Behind the Mask

Video
12/17/2020
DHA Seal

A tribute to those across the Military Health System who deserve recognition and thanks for their hard work during this pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask | Heroes Behind the Mask

COVID-19 Response

Video
11/27/2020
DHA Seal

Army Pfc. David Alvarado, assigned to the Javits New York Medical Station (JNYMS), talks about their position at JNYMS in support of the Department of Defense COVID-19 response, April 24, 2020. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, is providing military support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help communities in need. (U.S. Army Video by Cpl. Rachel Thicklin.)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask

COVID-19 Response2

Video
11/27/2020
DHA Seal

Army Spc. Sean Colangelo, assigned to the Javits New York Medical Station (JNYMS), talks about their position at JNYMS in support of the Department of Defense COVID-19 response, April 23, 2020. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, is providing military support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help communities in need. (U.S. Army Video by Cpl. Rachel Thicklin)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask

The Importance of Enrolling Diverse Participants in COVID-19 Studies

Video
11/3/2020
The Importance of Enrolling Diverse Participants in COVID-19 Studies

This video discusses why enrolling diverse participants in COVID-19 studies is critical for ensuring that, when we find a vaccine, we have enough data from populations who are most affected by COVID-19 to determine vaccine safety and efficacy.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

How Can Vaccine and Antibody Studies Move So Quickly and Still Be Safe?

Video
11/3/2020
How Can Vaccine and Antibody Studies Move So Quickly and Still Be Safe?

This video provides a detailed overview of the processes that have been implemented to accelerate the pace of the COVID-19 vaccine and antibody studies, and what is being done to assure safety.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

MHS Minute: Heroes Behind the Mask

Video
10/8/2020
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

In the face of a global threat, healthcare heroes across the MHS have donned their mask, and served on the front line of the battle against COVID-19. Tune in to this month's "MHS Minute" to learn more!

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

The Military Health System Celebrates Labor Day

Video
9/4/2020
The Military Health System Celebrates Labor Day

Labor Day pays tribute to the American workforce. This year, we pay tribute to the Military Health System Workforce.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

MHS Minute: A Call to Action for Convalescent Plasma Donation

Video
8/24/2020
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

Have you recovered from COVID-19, or tested positive for antibodies? Consider donating convalescent plasma. For eligibility requirements, and to find a donor center near you, go to https://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/Donors/COVID-19andBloodDonation.aspx

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

Convalescent Plasma Donation PSA featuring Lt. General Place

Video
7/10/2020
Image of Lt. Gen Place

Lt. Gen Place asks servicemembers DoD-wide to consider dontating plasma in the fight against COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

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

Fleas Aren't Just Annoying

Video
6/19/2020
DHA Seal

Learn more about how to protect yourself--and your pets--from fleas by watching this video.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses

Don't let ticks get under your skin

Video
6/19/2020
DHA Seal

Don't let ticks get under your skin! Watch this video to learn more.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Tick-Borne Illnesses
<< < 1 2 3 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 3

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.