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Public Health prepares for mosquito season

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Ingold
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

As warmer weather approaches, South Carolina’s mosquito population will become more active and can potentially transmit dangerous diseases to Team Shaw members.

In preparation for increased insect activity, the 20th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron public health flight held training on how to trap, analyze and prevent the spread of mosquitos on Shaw to protect the base population from the dangers of the pest.

“Mosquitos can carry life-threatening diseases and these diseases can have long-term health implications for Airmen,” said Staff Sgt. Austin Spitzer, 20th OMRS occupational health noncommissioned officer in charge. “There are precautions you can take, like using bug spray, but can still get through and bite you.”

After the team captures the insects, they freeze them and separate male and female mosquitos. Only female mosquitos transmit diseases. The female mosquitos are then shipped to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, for analysis.

If the sample reveals the presence of a virus such as Zika virus or West Nile virus on base, the flight will coordinate with 20th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management Airmen to eradicate insects in high-population areas, as well as inform the base of the increased insect population.

Public health Airmen work to prevent many different diseases and viruses across Air Force installations, but have been prioritizing the battle against COVID-19. The mosquito capture training was intended to strengthen insect-borne disease fighting skills in the flight.

“COVID-19 has been our number one priority for the past year,” said Airman Cielo Vargas, 20th OMRS public health technician. “It was really valuable to refresh these skills and make sure we are prepared for anything.”

The public health team continues to fight to keep Team Shaw safe from disease and ready to deploy for combat operations.