MILITARY MEDICAL ENTOMOLOGY FIELD CONTROL
It is impossible to review military and world history without considering arthropod-
borne diseases. At times, effects from arthropod-borne diseases have outweighed
battle casualties. Commanders seem to forget these bitter lessons. Commanders may
become forgetful in time of war when other matters seem more urgent. Because the
commander is responsible for troop health, he may ask for advice on certain disease
problems. Hence, you must be familiar with arthropod-borne diseases and be
convinced of applicable individual and unit protective measures (Table 7-1).
Entomology is especially important in today's Army. Since we are very mobile
and deployable at anytime to any place in the world, we need to be very careful of
contact with arthropod-borne diseases. When working with guerrilla-type warfare, we
again expose ourselves to possible illness. We, as a susceptible population, can only
rely on things like immunizations, sanitation, and education to try and maintain some
kind of an edge.
EFFECTS OF ARTHROPODS
Arthropods can affect our health in many ways, the most important being bites.
Many insects bite, some in self defense, some just chew but the ones which cause the
most trouble are the ones that use us as a food source. They have mouthparts that are
capable of piercing the skin and sucking out blood and other fluids. During the bite,
they introduce chemicals that may be severe irritants, but that is not half the problem.
When those insects introduce pathogens like the ones that cause malaria, encephalitis,
yellow fever, plague, African sleeping sickness, typhus and Rocky Mountain spotted
fever, they become real medical threats.
Envenomization though not as bad as disease vectors still have a mortality rate
that cannot be ignored. Arthropods such as bees, wasps, ants, spiders, scorpions, and
centipedes either through a sting or bite can produce death. There are two types of
envenomization problems. The first is a toxic effect that is when the venom of the
arthropod causes the effects without any outside influences such as an allergy. Some
venoms produce only slight pain and irritation while others are toxic enough to produce
death. The other problem is with anaphylactic shock (a very rapid severe reaction that
can cause death within a few minutes). Personnel who suspect they may have this
problem should be tested. The most common arthropod to cause this effect is the
honeybee, but so can wasps and ants.