Insects in the Middle East could be deadly to troops.
Aug 8 2013 - 11:00am
For deployed troops, danger is everywhere.
But besides the roadside bombs, gun fire and air strikes, there is a less obvious enemy that could be just as deadly: insects. Mosquitos, sand flies and filth flies are common in the Middle East and can transmit a range of diseases.
These diseases, according to an entomologist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Seth Britch, can cause "… lasting, pretty serious medical complications."
Now, scientists are studying ways to keep bugs away from the troops.
One approach uses structures called HESCO barriers. These barriers are lined with heavy cloth and filled with dirt to produce a wall of protection. After being treated with an insecticide, it effectively kills mosquitoes and sand flies.
So effective, that in tests conducted on treated HESCO barriers, researchers have seen mosquitoes die within a half hour and up to four hours later after being exposed to the barriers.
Scientists are also testing camouflage netting that has been sprayed with insecticide. The treated netting was sent to soldiers in Iraq and continued to kill insects even after 300 days of use.
Finally, scientists are experimenting with uniforms that have been pre-treated with an insecticide called permethrin. In tests, mosquitoes stayed far away from both skin and fabric treated with permethrin.
All of these tests (and all of these bites) are tolerated with one goal in mind according to USDA chemist Ulrich Bernier: “So that personnel that we send out all over the world are protected the best they can be.”
These researchers are already working to create clothing, tents and protective awnings for use on the homefront as well.
Marsha Lewis is a freelance producer based in California. She has won 11 National Telly Awards and 9 Regional Emmy Awards for her work in local and national syndicated news.
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