Public Health monitors mosquito population
7/16/2012 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Every year, thousands of service members are bitten by mosquitoes.
Two experts with the 51st Aerospace Medicine Squadron Public Health office study mosquito habits at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, to prevent over population and health threats to humans.
"Mosquitoes spread lots of diseases," Senior Airman Rene Martinez said. "We have to make sure we're mission by not catching any diseases like malaria."
Martinez and Hyon Chu So have collected and sorted more than 2,000 mosquito samples throughout the base for analysis this year. All female mosquito specimens are then sent to Yongsan Army Garrison in Seoul for analysis and disease detection.
"We are only looking for the females mosquitoes when we sort through the traps," So said. "The females are the ones who bite and carry disease. Male mosquitoes are primarily vegetarian, so they pose no harm to humans."
Public health technicians calculate populations using a technique called mosquito larva dipping, explained So. The research and analysis conducted by public health allows the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron to accurately spray and eradicate over-populated areas.
The office frequently monitors the flightline, well-populated areas around housing and bodies of water sources like the ponds at the golf course. By checking 15 land and water sources around base, technicians can gauge how bad the mosquito season will be. The population of these blood-sucking insects is on the rise.
Public health collected only 200 mosquitoes in May, but nearly 1,400 in June and almost 600 in the first week of July. If seasonal trends continue normally, the mosquito population will increase, Martinez said.
To help decrease the amount of bites, Martinez recommends staying away from the damper areas outdoors. Other ways to avoid mosquitoes include using bug repellants and avoiding unnecessary lights and bright colors since mosquitoes are attracted to them.
"Monsoon season is here, and that increases the breeding grounds for mosquitoes," he said. "We recommend people avoid standing water and wooded areas since those are prime locations for mosquitoes to breed."
The public health office asks anyone who finds mosquito traps not to tamper with them. Tampering with the traps could affect the results of the area being monitored, resulting in too little or too much spraying around the base.
For individuals who notice an over populated area of mosquitoes, call the 51st AMDS Public Health office at 784-4494.