ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – A team of U.S. Army infectious disease experts are working together to gather and analyze the genomic sequence of mosquitos following the first confirmed non-travel related malaria case in Maryland in more than 40 years.
The U.S. Army's 1st Area Medical Laboratory and scientists from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and Smithsonian Institution are leveraging their collective expertise to better understand the reemergence of malaria in the United States.
The Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based 1st Area Medical Laboratory “Mad Scientists” are assigned to the 44th Medical Brigade and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. military’s premier CBRNE formation.
American Soldiers from 1st AML deploy as a unit or in task-organized teams to perform surveillance, laboratory testing and health hazard assessments of environmental, occupational, endemic disease and CBRNE threats to support force protection and Weapons of Mass Destruction missions. The 1st Area Medical Laboratory has also strengthened partnerships with allies during recent visits to South Korea, Poland, Australia, Canada and Germany.
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, 1st AML deployed diagnostic capabilities to five different areas around the world, including U.S. bases in Japan, Korea and Germany.
In 2020, Soldiers from 1st AML also assisted with contact tracing for the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in Guam and helped authorities in the Northern Mariana Islands and America Samoa to develop surveillance laboratories and testing infrastructures.
The Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based 1st AML routinely works with the Fort Detrick, Maryland-based USAMRIID to provide health hazard assessments of environmental, occupational and endemic diseases
Entomologists, the biological scientists who study insects, support both commands.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Cynthia Tucker, an entomologist who serves at both 1st AML and WRAIR’s Birosytematics Unit at the Smithsonian Institution, recently characterized the mosquito population around Canadian Forces Base Suffield in Alberta, Canada, during Exercise Precise Response.
Tucker will use her research from the multinational exercise to contribute a new entry to the Smithsonian Institute’s specimen voucher collection that supports mosquito research around the world.
Col. Matthew J. Grieser, the commander of the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, said the mosquito study is another example of how his unique command contributes to force protection.
“While the new case of malaria is very rare and non-contagious, we are studying the mosquitos involved out of an abundance of caution,” said Grieser, a native of Mulino, Oregon, who deployed to Afghanistan four times and Iraq five times and has also served in Haiti, Panama and New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. “When it comes to the health of our force, we seek to better understand all potential diseases to contribute to force protection measures.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that the risk to the public for locally acquired mosquito-transmitted malaria remains very low.
More information about the recent confirmed case in Maryland and prevention measures is available at https://health.maryland.gov/newsroom/Pages/Maryland-Department-of-Health-announces-positive-case-of-locally-acquired-malaria.aspx