Bug Week graphic (MHS graphic)
Bug Week graphic (MHS graphic)

Move over sharks … It’s time to talk about bugs!

Military Health System Communications Office

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Buzz. Buzz. Swwwwaaaaaarm. SPLAT! These familiar sounds are a reminder that summer – and bugs – have arrived. This summer, the Military Health System celebrates Bug Week from July 27 through August 2 to educate the military community and general public about bug-borne illnesses they may encounter at home and at forward-deployed operational sites.

“Bug Week is an exciting and important campaign for the Military Health System. We have a unique opportunity to educate beneficiaries about bug-borne illnesses in a fun and creative way, while simultaneously building an appreciation of bugs,” said Richard Breen, the MHS’ Director of Communications.

To kick off Bug Week, the National Museum of Health and Medicine is hosting Bugapalooza, a free, family-friendly event July 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., rain or shine. Bugapalooza presenters will introduce visitors to a variety of bug-related topics. Entomologists from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research will have live mosquitoes and sand flies as “educational assistants,” showcasing the lab’s efforts to mitigate the effects of diseases such as malaria and Zika.

“Some bugs actually provide us with some health benefits, and our activities will highlight common prevention practices useful for the military and the public, all during an enjoyable, family-friendly event,” said Andrea Schierkolk, NMHM public programs manager.

Museum staff will discuss how bugs can affect museum collections, and showcase public health posters from the museum’s Otis Historical Archives. Other participants include entomologists from the Naval Medical Research Center and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences who will discuss a variety of insects including flies, bed bugs, sand flies, and kissing bugs. Visitors can also expect to see live bees and watch a surprise performance from Fairfax County’s “MC BUGG-Z,” an insect biologist who raps about bugs.

Additional events include week-long exhibit at the National Museum of Health and Medicine and blood drives in Okinawa and Hawaii.

While Bug Week is intended to be fun and interactive, the real goal is to educate the military community and the general public about bug-borne illnesses and how to protect themselves. Beneficiaries can rely on Bug Week to raise awareness about the role of bugs in their health and safety, especially during the hot summer months when temperatures rise.

Navy Capt. Eric Hoffman, Director of the Armed Forces Pest Management Board, shares some helpful bug prevention tips, “Be informed. Learn more about insect and tick-borne disease in your area and actions you can take to reduce insects and ticks from breeding where you live. Protect yourself by using repellents and reducing outdoor activities in the areas and times when insects and ticks are most active.”

To see what all the buzz is about, visit www.health.mil/bugs and follow @MilitaryHealth and @TRICARE on Facebook and Twitter to join in the creepy-crawler takeover all week long. Or, subscribe for the “Daily Buzz” – an email bulletin to catch a recap of posted content each day.

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