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Medical Entomology in the United States Department of Defense: Challenging and Rewarding

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The United States Department of Defense (DoD) maintains a highly-trained cadre of about 115 active duty uniformed entomologists. Approximate numbers across the services are Army-65, Navy-35 and Air Force-15. Although the primary focus is on medical entomology and pest management, DoD entomologists are involved in a wide variety of interesting and at times unique activities, many of which were highlighted in this article. Earthquakes, storms, floods, and other natural disasters often create conditions that can result in disease outbreaks and dramatic increases in nuisance pests. The recent earthquake in Haiti is a prime example. Military entomology has been involved with the US military's humanitarian response following natural disasters or other emergencies for over 50 years. US governmental agencies have long recognized the uniqueness of the military entomology community, especially the capability to respond rapidly anywhere in the world. Military entomologists provide equipment and expertise for disease surveillance, vector and rodent control, and assist in the re-establishment of normal living conditions. For example, following the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia in 2004, military entomologists were dispatched to Indonesia to aid local authorities in preventing insect-borne disease outbreaks. Military entomologists were also sent to the US Gulf Coast region to provide disease vector surveillance and control assistance following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. From providing vector control during the great Kansas City flood of 1951, mosquito control prior to President Truman's dedication of Everglades National Park, vector control during relocation operations for Vietnamese and Haitian refugees, to mosquito surveillance following the historic Midwest floods of 1993, the unique expertise of military entomologists has been instrumental in controlling insect-borne disease outbreaks, nuisance pests and relieving human suffering during disaster situations.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2011

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