Unit keeps eye on bugs in Cuba
January 2, 2009
Mosquitoes can be a nuisance or a serious health risk for Joint Task Force Guantanamo in Cuba. Avoiding the risk of the diseases they carry is the task of the Joint Detention Group's preventive medicine office.
The office, made up of four 525th Military Police Battalion Soldiers, weekly tracks the
mosquito population to make sure they aren't carrying any dangerous illness.
Insects are collected weekly and sent to the Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine for testing.
The insect canisters are placed around the JTF and U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay and look similar to green vacuum canisters. Propane in the canister attracts insects from a long range, while chemicals mimicking human body scents attract mosquitoes in the immediate area into a fan which sends them inside the canister. The insects are then collected a few times each week.
Watching for potential diseased insects is not the only job of the preventive medicine office. They also treat troopers' uniforms with insect repellant and routinely test drinking water for acceptable bacteria and chemical levels.
As the JTF's experts on the subject, the personnel also give monthly pre-service in-briefings to new JTF troopers, and inform them about proper use of insect repellent and how to safely work in the Guantanamo heat.
Another important facet of the office is monthly inspections of the kitchens. They evaluate food preparation techniques, all food temperatures and overall cleanliness of the facilities and personnel. Each facility must conform to the regulations for the safety of everyone who eats there. This duty is shared with the Naval Station's preventive medicine personnel.
The preventive medicine office encourages troopers to always monitor water intake so they're not overcome by the heat.
They also suggest using insect repellant while outdoors, and suggest products with a DEET content of about 31 percent.