Back to Top Skip to main content

AFHSB tracks bugs worldwide to protect service members

Group of people in forest gathering samples MAJ Jaree Johnson (far right) and her team conducted field insecticidal resistance surveillance to establish a baseline for potential resistant mosquitoes on Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Global Emerging Infections Surveillance | Bug-Borne Illnesses

Ticks, mosquitoes, and other blood-feeding arthropods can transmit dangerous pathogens to U.S. military personnel. The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch’s (AFHSB) Global Emerging Infections Surveillance (GEIS) program monitors these ticks and mosquitoes—also called vectors—for disease and the pathogens they carry in order to prevent the spread of diseases to Service members.

“The U.S. military has a long history of battling vector-borne diseases. Protecting our Service members is vital to the Department of Defense labs, host countries, and regional partners who conduct disease surveillance work to understand the threats that may impact military personnel and local populations,” said Navy Capt. Guillermo Pimentel, GEIS chief.

The GEIS Febrile and Vector-borne Infections (FVBI) program focuses on four areas:

  • identifying pathogens that cause fever in humans, like dengue or Zika
  • tracking malaria for mutations that might affect our ability to protect, diagnose, and treat our Service members
  • monitoring the distribution of the mosquitoes, ticks, and sandflies that transmit viruses and bacteria to humans
  • mapping and forecasting risk of these diseases 

The GEIS FVBI program supports vector and vector-borne disease surveillance projects in more than 40 countries around the world.

“We work closely with DoD laboratories and public health organizations in each of the geographic combatant command areas of responsibility,” said U.S. Public Health Service Lt. (Dr.) Brett Forshey, lead of the GEIS FVBI program. “These groups collaborate with other local partners in the region, which is key for extending our ability to conduct surveillance for these vectors and diseases.”

DoD partners within the GEIS network and their collaborators are on the ground gathering information about where mosquitoes, ticks, and sand flies are found in different parts of the world. GEIS partners then rely on extensive laboratory expertise to identify the species of mosquito, tick, or sand fly and determine which viruses, bacteria, and parasites they carry. GEIS partners also coordinate to determine how often mosquitoes resist chemicals commonly used to lower their populations.

One of our key projects is to bring all the mosquito and tick detection data together and use it to better understand the types of risks that exist for our Service members,” said Forshey. “Turning that data into actionable information for our military is a challenge, but one that needs to be addressed in order to provide the best guidance possible for those that might be exposed.”

Another issue is timeliness – transporting samples back to the lab can be time consuming and the information received may not be up-to-date. “We need to develop better processes that will allow us to quickly identify these arthropod vectors and pathogens they carry, to help make decisions to limit diseases and prevent transmission to military populations.

“We need to remember that before the current pandemic, West Nile, chikungunya, and Zika viruses emerged out of obscurity to spread rapidly to many parts of the world. There are surely many other pathogens transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks poised to do the same,” said Forshey. “We are still searching for vaccines and treatments for many of these pathogens. For others, we need to keep an eye on whether the vaccines and treatments still work.”

Pimentel agrees. “Knowing the threats and preventing exposure – including proper wear of insecticide-treated uniforms – is still the best way to keep our Service members healthy.”

You also may be interested in...

Health surveillance advances military medicine over past 30 years

Article
3/17/2021
Military personnel crouched on the ground

Thirty years improvements in data collection, automation, and transmission have allowed for the creation of robust longitudinal health surveillance records on military populations.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Data Management and Technical Support | DoD Serum Repository

New Army surveillance program designed to keep service members safe

Article
3/10/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask hanging a light in a tree

Collecting vector samples allows for PHC-P scientists to analyze areas of interest for potential vector-borne diseases that could impact the health of the force.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Global Health Engagement | Bug-Borne Illnesses | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

DOD initiatives address the sexual health of our military

Article
2/17/2021
Image of a bacterium

STIs are important to identify and treat because they can impact service members’ health and readiness, as well as their ability to perform their duties.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Health Readiness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Men's Health | Women's Health

AFHSD’s GEIS collect data worldwide to support force protection

Article
12/22/2020
Medical personnel scanning forehead of soldier with thermometer

AFHSD/GEIS continue work with partners across the globe in their efforts to combat COVID-19 and protect military readiness.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health | Coronavirus | Biological Surveillance Tools | Global Health Engagement | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

GEIS Program collaborates to combat antibiotic resistance

Article
10/19/2020
Scientist in a lab

Through evolution, commonly circulating pathogens can develop resistance to antibiotics,

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch

DHA recognizes 25 years of AFHSB's health surveillance journal

Article
8/12/2020
Medical technicians wearing masks and entering information on a computer

25 Years of Surveillance Reporting in Monthly Journal

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

DoD Leverages GEIS Respiratory Surveillance to Respond to COVID-19

Article
7/15/2020
Three men in a pig pen taking samples

AFHSB’s Global Emerging Infection Surveillance (GEIS) program manages a global laboratory network to detect emergent diseases and track respiratory illnesses such as influenza.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | 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

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

Tackling mosquitos to protect the force

Article
6/23/2020
Man emptying bag into a helicopter spreader

Mosquitoes transmit a host of woes but not COVID-19

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Bug-Borne Illnesses | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Army entomologist searches for diseases in Africa

Article
6/22/2020
Soldier wearing gloves testing various substances

An entomologist studies insects and pests in order to monitor their behavior and patterns to prevent diseases among the military population.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch

DoD Establishes Collaborative Virus Genetic Sequencing Capability for COVID-19

Article
6/5/2020
Image of two scientists in masks looking at a computer monitor

COVID-19 sequencing process will provide military commanders and other DoD leadership with critical information to guide force health protection decision-making.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Coronavirus | Global Emerging Infections Surveillance

Early Detection Support for Troops During COVID-19

Article
4/23/2020
Woman in lab wearing mask and testing samples

The network’s ability to integrate the priorities identified by the Combatant Commands into its mission creates an agile organization ready to respond to needs as they occur.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Coronavirus

Mid-season flu activity increase: How to keep healthy

Article
1/22/2020
Navy Hospital Corpsman Kenny Liu, from San Jose, assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford's medical department, prepares a needle with a flu vaccination in the ship's hangar bay. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Angel Thuy Jaskuloski)

Despite reports of increased flu activity in the U.S., the Military Health System remains vigilant

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Influenza Summary and Reports | Health Readiness | Influenza, Northern Hemisphere | Influenza, Southern Hemisphere | Vaccine Recommendations | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch

DTRA contributes to historic Ebola vaccine effort

Article
1/17/2020
Air Force Staff Sgt. Lee Nembhard, an aeromedical evacuation technician assigned to the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron from Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, straps a simulated Ebola patient to a litter during a Transport Isolation System training exercise at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Megan Munoz)

U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves new Ebola vaccine

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Immunizations | Global Emerging Infections Surveillance | Global Health Engagement | Global Health Engagement
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2

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.