The fight against mosquitos

The Fight Against Mosquitos

Senior Airman Shayne Collins and Airman 1st Class Alijé Babb, 82nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron public health technicians, set a mosquito trap on Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. Traps are placed in areas where mosquitos thrive, where water is stagnant or high, uncut grass exists. the 82nd AMDS public Health flight has been trapping mosquitos on base to test them for diseases such as West Nile virus, Chikungunya, Zika and yellow fever. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lufthansa Castro)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

With the mosquito season upon us, we can expect an increase of finding annoying red itchy bumps all over our bodies.  But what remains unseen are all the potential diseases that mosquitoes can carry.  To mitigate these risks, there are several agencies, on and off base, who are working tirelessly to keep our population safe.

On base, the Sheppard Air Force Base, Public Health Flight and 82nd Civil Engineering Squadron  and the PAE Entomology section conduct numerous protection and surveillance measures to stay ahead of the game in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases.  Public Health sets multiple traps throughout the base with the purpose of disease surveillance and PAE Entomology treats areas throughout the base to reduce the mosquito population.

Sheppard AFB Public Health uses three different traps to catch mosquitoes; the CO2 Light Trap, Gravid Trap, and BG Sentinel Trap.  The CO2 Light Trap uses carbon dioxide (dry ice) and light to attract mosquitoes towards a net with a fan that hangs six feet above the ground.  Mosquitoes can detect the carbon dioxide from 75 feet away.  All mosquitoes need water to breed, which is why public health uses the Gravid Trap.  This trap consists of a bucket of baited water solution with a tunnel and fan that pushes them to the net above it. The BG Sentinel Trap is a trap with mosquito attractant inside the net.  This trap is designed to catch Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which are known vectors for Dengue, Chikungunya, Yellow Fever and Zika viruses.

Off base, the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District traps in all areas including Freedom Estates.  The city treats mosquito breeding sites with biological agents to prevent the development of larvae and conducts nightly sprays to kill adult mosquitoes.  The Health District also offers free granules to City residents so that they can treat their homes.  If interested, please call their vector control hotline at (940) 761-7890 or visit their homepage at http://www.wichitafallstx.gov/375/Vector-Mosquito-Control

It is important to know that the likelihood of a mosquito transmitting a disease such as West Nile Virus, Chikungunya, and Zika is greatly reduced through proper protection and prevention.

Some prevention methods are as follows: use insect repellent containing at least 30 percent DEET.  Remove standing water in your surrounding area (i.e. old tires, clogged gutter drains, flower pots, and pet dishes).  Install or repair screens around windows and doors.  Avoid/reduce time outdoors during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.  Wear proper protective clothing such as long sleeves and pants to avoid getting bit.

The more we know about mosquitoes and how to keep them away, the lesser our chances of getting bit.  To keep the base population up to date on what diseases are prevalent in the area, the Sheppard AFB Public Health Flight will continue to provide you with information on pertinent information on mosquitoes this summer.

For more information on mosquitoes or to report an on-base complaint please contact the 82nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Public Health Flight at 940-676-1874/3052 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at: https://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html.