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Pest Management and Public Health Take Preventative Actions for ASAB

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

As colder and possibly wetter months approach a group of Airmen are focused on making sure members here are safe from small pests.

The 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Pest Management Flight and the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group Public Health Flight are working together to prevent the spread of mosquitos, flies and small animals around the installation.

“The primary mission of the Pest Management section is to control medically significant pests and those which present a threat to food, such as rodents, feral mammals, flies, sandflies, ticks, scorpions, snakes and cockroaches at Ali Al Salem,” said U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. John Wilt, the NCO in charge of the 36th ECES Pest Management Flight.

ASAB has its own wet biome called the ‘Green Mile’, which is a home to many birds and indigenous plants, some capable of growing over 6 feet in height, and at times is breeding ground for mosquitos. Wilt and USAF Staff Sgt. Bethany Eutsey, a pest management craftsman assigned to the 36th ECES Pest Management flight, come out to the Green Mile to monitor and check for mosquito larva. These checks ensures that service members are not overwhelmed with mosquitos in the coming months.

The PM flight is not only responsible for ASAB, but also for improving the quality of life at Cargo City. While the PM Flight is only comprised of two individuals, Wilt and Eutsey use all resources available to them at the greatest lengths possible. Wilt said these resources include ASAB’s U.S. Army veterinarian, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Bird/Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard program, building facility managers and the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group Public Health office.

“Public Health and Pest Management work together to prevent and respond to zoonotic and vector concerns on base,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Veronica Hart, the public health officer assigned to the 386th EMDG. “We regularly meet as members of the Pest Management board that is held monthly with the Veterinary clinic, as well as whenever PH or PM has a concern that they need to collaborate with the other unit.”

A concern shared by both PM and PH is the spread of mosquitos, which PM and PH work together to prevent at the earliest stage possible.

“When looking for larva, we are generally looking for the type and number of larvae,” Eutsey said as she was inspecting water at the Green Mile. “We can easily tell if the mosquito is capable of transmitting malaria by identifying if we have an anopheles mosquito.”

Eutsey went on to explain that she looks for larva without siphons, which is a small breathing tube that mosquito larvae use to breathe while in water. Eutsey said that the lack of the breathing tube signifies a threat of mosquito larva capable of malaria transmission.

“Also looking for a general increase in larvae numbers gives us an idea of when more aggressive control measures are needed or if our controls are successful,” said Eutsey. “Of the mosquito control tactics, larval control has the greatest impact, because the mosquitos are concentrated, accessible and cannot fly away. Larva treatments are generally the most effective and least expensive form of mosquito control.”

Hart mentioned that thankfully right now there is not a high risk for vector-borne diseases but that ASAB service members should still continue to be vigilant and protect themselves and their wingmen.

“The best way for members to protect themselves against mosquitos is proper utilization of the Department of Defense Insect Repellant System,” Hart said. “This requires properly worn permethrin treated uniforms and applying repellant to exposed skin.”

Hart went into detail that all USAF approved operational camouflage pattern uniforms are treated with permethrin, but proper wear of the uniform is essential for greatest effect, like wearing sleeves unrolled. This would leave a service members hands, face and neck as the only exposed areas.

Hart and Wilt both shared that approved bug repellants include DEET, picardin, Center for Disease Control and Prevention approved lemon and eucalyptus repellant or IR3535. Additional resources are available through self-help avenues hosted through PM.

“Facility managers can utilize self-help to control pests around their facilities,” Wilt said. “There is an assortment of options from ant or cockroach bait stations, rodent traps including glue boards which are highly effective at capturing an assortment of pests, indoor and outdoor fly traps.”

Wilt said additional ways for service members to conduct their own pest control measures is to take out trash daily, keep doors closed when possible and to not disturb fly traps in place by PM.

Hart end with a friendly reminder to not feed or interact with wild animals found around ASAB and Cargo City.

“Keep the area around your building clean,” Hart said. “If you have any concerns about pests, vectors or animals please feel free to contact Public Health or Pest Control.”

Public Health can be reached at 442-6696, and Pest Management can be reached through the 386th ECES customer service phone number at 442-2929