You know what they say, “April showers bring May flowers” but it also ushers in hot and humid weather resulting in an increased presence of mosquitoes to the Southeast. The Environmental Health Section, Department of Public Health at Lyster will be ramping up monitoring of the heat category, mosquito surveillance, and testing of the recreational waters on Fort Rucker.
Andrew Hamre with Environmental Health shared tips and insight on staying safe and healthy this summer.
Heat injuries are preventable and monitoring the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature Index assists leadership in decision making regarding Soldier acclimatization, work/rest cycles during outdoor work and training, and recommended water consumption. “It can also be useful to the civilian workforce and residents on Fort Rucker when planning strenuous outdoor work,” remarked Hamre.
The vectors for mosquito-borne diseases, such as ZIKA Virus, Chikungunya, Dengue Fever, and West Nile Virus have become commonplace in the Southeast in recent years. The environmental health (EH) section monitors mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases on Fort Rucker by placing out collection devices at designated locations. The EH team collects, sorts, identifies, and ships mosquito specimens to the Army Public Health Lab at Fort Meade for analysis of the presence of these diseases.
Hamre shared, “When mosquitoes are actively pursuing a blood meal, wearing long pants and sleeves and using Deet insect repellant can help protect you and your family from their bites. Also, eliminating any standing water around your house and changing out the water in wading pools and birdbaths at least weekly will prevent the completion of the life cycle from egg to an adult mosquito. Be aware that mosquitoes can breed in large numbers around your home in a very small amount of water.”
Swimming is always a popular pastime on Fort Rucker during the summer. Pools, lakes, and other water-related activities are great sources of fun and exercise, however, there are potential risks of waterborne illness and injury. Pools and similar facilities can harbor pathogens that make us sick, and sometimes the chemicals used to treat the water can irritate our skin, eyes, and lungs, fortunately, most of these risks are preventable. The MWR pools on post are operated by contract personnel with daily checks of the filtration systems and lifeguards check the pH and chlorine every two hours. Additionally, the Environmental Health staff performs monthly facility inspections and collects weekly water samples for bacterial analysis from the pools and at the approved swimming area at West Beach. If sample results should exceed the established allowable limits, the facility is closed until subsequent satisfactory test results are achieved.
Environmental Health’s goal is to minimize these risks so families can all enjoy the benefits of recreational water safely.
Stay informed, stay safe, and have a great summer of fun outdoor activities.
To learn more about Lyster Army Health Clinic, visit https://lyster.tricare.mil/ or follow the Lyster Army Health Clinic Facebook page.