Photo Information

Sailors with the Preventive Medicine Unit, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, place traps along a tree line aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 8, 2012. Throughout the year, PMU performs many tasks to keep the living conditions on base at a high standard. The unit is now working hard as the summer months approach to catch and test mosquitoes from across the base for malaria. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Franklin E. Mercado)

Photo by Pfc. Franklin E. Mercado

Mosquito testing keeps diseases at bay

10 May 2012 | Pfc. Franklin E. Mercado 2nd Marine Logistics Group

According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2010 an estimated 216 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide and 655,000 people died from the disease.

Sailors with Preventative Medicine Unit, 2nd Marine Logistics Group are working diligently to ensure diseases, such as malaria, do not threaten Marines and sailors aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Throughout the year, PMU performs many tasks to keep the living conditions on base at a high standard. They inspect chow halls, barracks and working facilities for health hazards.

Complaints about pests are constant with the warm weather and rising number of insects. The heavily wooded and wet areas aboard the base are also conducive to a thriving mosquito population.

On May 8, Sailors with PMU ventured across the base to plant traps and conduct their research of the installation’s mosquito population.

There haven’t been many outbreaks of malaria in the U.S. compared to other stricken places, but it doesn’t stop the unit from doing all they can to keep it that way.

“We don’t have any cases in the area,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles A. Hill, a preventive medicine technician with PMU. “We still do regular trapping and testing of mosquitoes from around the base.”

Camp Lejeune has a large quantity of grassy and moist areas, which is why it is important for traps to be spread out across the vast installation, explained Hill.

“We spread the traps out as far as we can,” he said. “We put them on Midway Park, Onslow Beach, around the Naval Hospital, and a lot more places on the base, so we can get a wide variety of mosquitoes.”

There are many types of mosquitoes – with the most common breeds being Culex and Aedes mosquitoes – and the trapping process gives PMU a chance to test a large number of them. In the peak mosquito season, traps are regularly found with 300 to 400 mosquitoes each, said Hill.

“When we get the traps back, we get a good idea of which mosquitoes are in the area,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Justin Munger, a preventive medicine specialist with PMU. “We can better identify the ones that are harmful to people, and conduct population control.”

The traps are collected 24 hours after they are set out. They set the traps with carbon dioxide and lights, which attract approximately 80 percent more mosquitoes, said Hill.

“We don’t only rely on how many traps we lay out, we rely on the carbon dioxide and lights to help almost double the amount of bugs,” Hill said. “Malaria is a serious disease, so we need to do the best we can to keep it away from the people on base.”

The traps are rarely seen by personnel on base; sailors with the PMU do their best at hiding them in the tree line. If a person happens to run into the mosquito trap, the PMU strongly encourages people to leave them alone.