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U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC)

Navy Entomologists Train With Largest Mosquito Control Program in U.S.

by Lt.j.g. Victoria Wong
04 August 2022 Personnel from the Navy Entomology Center of Excellence (NECE) visited the Lee County Mosquito Control District (LCMCD), Lehigh Acres, Fla. July 24-29, 2022 to learn more about mosquito control and surveillance.

As part of their readiness training, three Navy Entomologists embarked on helicopters to inspect habitat areas for concentrations of mosquito larvae and exchanged notes with technicians applying insecticides for adult mosquitoes using truck-mounted pesticide equipment. They also toured the Sterile Insect Technology laboratory and took part in feeding the laboratory’s mosquito colonies.

The entomologists engaged in ‘mosquito adult and larval pesticides resistance bioassay testing’, a method of determining if different pesticides are effective at killing mosquitoes - these bioassay techniques can then be used in NECE’s state-of-the-art Insecticide Resistance and Response System (IRRS) laboratory. LCMCD staff also provided a demonstration of drones used for surveillance, mosquito control, and topographical mapping.

“We’re learning current best practices for mosquito control,” stated Lt. j.g. Sierra Schluep, NECE Department Head of Testing and Evaluation. “We’ll tailor what we learn here to the needs of the Navy and Marine Corps while educating our personnel to efficiently reduce the mission-stopping threat of diseases such as dengue and malaria both abroad and at home.”

Mosquito control districts (MCDs) are essential to U.S. public health protection, encompassing diverse functions and services for vector and pest management. LCMCD serves just under one thousand square miles of land, making it the largest mosquito control district in the nation. The scope of Lee County’s mosquito problems requires its MCD to be innovative in utilizing equipment and techniques, and to perform its own research and quality control tests.

“The Lee County Mosquito Control District is an excellent example of how to combine the academic with the operational,” said Lt. j.g. Jacob Underwood, NECE Assistant Department Head of Global Health Operations. “New Navy entomologists often have limited operational background. Hands-on training and exposure to large-scale control programs is vital to enhancing our skills and broadening our mindset to approach problems in ways more practical to operational environments.”

Navy entomologists are often assigned to Marine Corps Medical Battalions and Forward Deployable Preventative Medicine Units (FDPMUs), working to identify, evaluate, and monitor diseases that threaten the health of deployed U.S. Forces. This expertise not only protects U.S. Military members but has also been leveraged to assist our global partners, with Navy Entomologists providing vector control expertise across all the Department of Defense (DoD) combatant commands, in the past few years alone.

“It’s very important for us to have this relationship with NECE,” said retired Navy captain David Hoel, LCMCD Executive Director. “They do important work that isn’t within the scope of mosquito control districts to perform, such as testing of commercial products. Working together is mutually beneficial to the advancement of research, development, and education of both military and civilian vector control personnel.”

NECE is a field activity of the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC), Portsmouth, Va. NMCPHC develops and shapes public health for the U.S. Navy and Marines Corps through health surveillance, epidemiology and analysis, disease and injury prevention, and public health consultation. Learn more by going to www.nmcphc.med.navy.mil. Follow NMCPHC on social media at: https://www.facebook.com/NavyAndMarineCorpsPublicHealthCenter http://twitter.com/nmcphc and https://www.instagram.com/nmcphc/
 
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