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Vector Control

Our Problem

Due to the nature of military operations, US Service Members deploy to various parts of the world, usually in developing countries where infectious diseases continue to be a leading cause of mortality and morbidity. The US military personnel and support staff are exposed to a wide range of vectors and vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, dengue, Rift Valley Fever, and leishmaniasis. The cost to the military for treatment is significant, but more important is the cost to the military mission in terms of lost manpower days, reduced combat effectiveness, lowered probability of mission success, and decreased unit morale. Protecting military and support personnel is therefore critical to mission success. VC00b  

Our Mission

The Vector Control Department’s mission is, through research, to develop and field quality personal protective measures (PPM) and vector surveillance and control products that prevent vector-borne disease in military deployment and training environments.

Our Criteria

The proper use of a system of personal protection measures (PPM) can be very effective in preventing disease transmission and reducing nuisance bites by blood-sucking arthropods. At present the following system is recommended to protect military personnel against arthropod-borne disease pathogens:

  • Apply controlled-release DEET as a topical repellent,
  • Treat field uniforms with permethrin,
  • Treat standard insect bed nets with permethrin, and
  • Wear the field uniform properly.

Although each component has limitations, this system of overlapping protection is necessary because it defends against several types of biting arthropods simultaneously under changing field conditions.

There is evidence of noncompliance with use of PPM in current operational environment, and this is a major concern. Recent data from Iraq (2003-2007) suggest that fewer than 30% of Soldiers properly used PPM to protect against biting insects. Factors that contributed to noncompliance with PPM use include:

  • Intense heat. Due to high temperatures in deployed environments, off-duty personnel normally wore shorts and T-shirts.
  • Failure to treat uniforms and bed nets with permethrin, even when the appropriate products were available;
  • Failure to routinely use topical DEET repellent because personnel believed it was unsafe, did not like its odor, or felt it was uncomfortable when applied to the skin;
  • Many Service Members did not know how to properly use PPM on a daily basis.

Because there are no vaccines or prophylactic drugs that can protect our personnel from many vector-borne diseases, the Vector Control department is faced with a challenge to develop novel effective personal protective materials, and arthropod surveillance and control products that are very effective in preventing disease transmission and reducing nuisance bites by blood-sucking arthropods.

Last Modified Date: 09-September-2016

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