Skip to main content

Military Health System

New Army surveillance program designed to keep service members safe

Image of Military personnel wearing a face mask hanging a light in a tree. Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Pascual, noncommissioned officer in charge of entomology for Public Health Command-Pacific in Japan, collects mosquito specimens from a surveillance light trap to test for vector-borne pathogens of human concern on Camp Zama, Japan, Feb. 25, 2021 (Photo by: Public Health Command - Pacific).

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Global Health Engagement | Bug-Borne Illnesses | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

This spring, the Army's Public Health Command-Pacific's Entomology and Environmental Molecular Biology Laboratory service lines will launch the first ever Pre-Exercise Vector Surveillance program for the Indo-Pacific region.

The new initiative is a pilot program funded by the Global Emerging Infections Surveillance program, also known as GEIS, a section of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch.

The vision of GEIS is to mitigate the threat of emerging infectious diseases to the U.S. military through a global laboratory network. The network is designed to help influence force health protection decision-making and enhance global health security.

One of the primary ways GEIS accomplishes this task is by providing timely, actionable infectious disease surveillance information to Geographic Combatant Commands and partner agencies, according to Army Maj. Michael Kwon, director of PHC-P's Environmental Health Services Directorate.

"This initiative acquires fresh data on health threats related to vector-borne diseases," Kwon explained. "The goal is to provide combatant commanders with relevant intelligence on the prevalence of pathogens transmitted by arthropods, in order to make informed force health protection decisions."

Typically, vector-borne disease data is collected by advance exercise parties as part of an occupational and environmental health site assessment, or OEHSA.

"Field parties put in the heroic effort to get checklists completed, but there are competing interests for time. Often individuals prioritize those tasks they are most versatile in," explained Kwon. "Historically, environmental scientists focused on potable water, air sampling for industrial chemicals, or collected data on other health threats, and insufficient time is spent on trapping for vectors.

Military personnel wearing a face mask looking into a microscope
Army Capt. John Eads, chief of entomology for Public Health Command-Pacific in Japan, examines a vector sample in a microscope at Camp Zama, Japan, Feb. 25, 2021. This spring, Eads and his team will launch the first ever Pre-Exercise Vector Surveillance program for the Indo-Pacific region (Photo by: Public Health Command - Pacific).

Army Capt. John Eads, chief of entomology at Camp Zama, Japan, recognized these hindrances to achieving an accurate site picture, namely a lack of standardized methodology, inconsistent manpower or capabilities.

So, when he first joined the PHC-P team, he began to find ways to leverage the PHC-P entomology program to better fit the needs of the Army and Department of Defense to keep service members safe from vector-borne diseases.

"When I first got here, the entomology program had potential to be more expansive, with a larger footprint than the local area," explained Eads. "The vision is to build the program to collect more data, more information, and improve the site picture of what was going on within Indo-Pacific as far as vector surveillance and pathogen detection."

"You can see with the pandemic, how quickly a disease can spread. That same concept applies to vector-borne diseases," Eads said. "For example, if there are Soldiers in the Philippines for an exercise who contract dengue [fever], they can transmit this to others. During peak mosquito season it could be just a matter of weeks before a traveler contracts the infection and perpetuates the cycle."

In early 2020, Eads was invited to Hawaii to brief military leaders on the importance of understanding vector-borne disease threats.

Eads attended his first GEIS meeting during this trip, and learned about how GEIS contributes to the protection of DOD healthcare beneficiaries and the global community through an integrated worldwide emerging infectious disease surveillance system.

"That's where I was first introduced to GEIS and their mission and vision, and it seemed to line up perfectly with my concept of one team from all branches working together to produce the best vector-borne disease data," he said.

Eads recognized the powerful potential for providing combatant commanders with actionable intelligence on disease threats for the different environmental terrains of the Indo-Pacific region.

To kick start the initiative, Eads reached out to other subject matter experts at the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences, also known as AFRIMS, to devise ways to utilize GEIS to obtain funding and solve force health protection gaps.

By June 2020, Eads had received leadership buy-in, and several days later submitted his official GEIS proposal to partner with AFRIMS teammates.

Military health personnel collecting samples from a river
Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Pascual, noncommissioned officer in charge of entomology for Public Health Command-Pacific in Japan, samples for mosquito larvae during a vector surveillance survey on Camp Zama, Japan, Feb. 25, 2021. Collecting vector samples allows for PHC-P scientists to analyze areas of interest for potential vector-borne diseases that could impact the health of the force (Photo by: Public Health Command - Pacific)

"AFRIMS in Thailand specializes more in animals such as rodents, collecting the rodents for testing for leptospirosis and other pathogens that we don't test for," explained Eads. "[AFRIMS] has a lot of biologists, so by partnering with them we could add to our capabilities and help each other out. So we included them in our proposal to GEIS and they included us in theirs."

One of the main objective of the PHC-P proposal was to standardize a surveillance program throughout the Indo-Pacific utilizing committed assets synchronized with GEIS, AFRIMS, and U.S. Army Pacific.

The goal is to capture population and activity data on vectors identified in the region and assess the presence and prevalence of pathogens in locations occupied by DOD personnel.

"We want to build joint knowledge products that can be used by both GEIS and combatant commanders," said Eads. "Final products will be two different formats of scientific data, one for GEIS and the other is real-time health risk assessments for combatant commanders."

By developing these products, Eads and AFRIMS will identify threat variables, not only for operational considerations, but also for the development of integrated pest management programs.

Kwon said the information provided by the products will have wide-ranging applications.

"The data that is released by the Army and GEIS gets used by a lot of researchers and scientists," he said. “A lot of people in public health career fields depend on having reliable data that is consistent."

One of the ways the PHC-P Pre-Exercise Vector Surveillance program will accomplish consistent data collection is by standardizing equipment and developing standardized operating procedures using next generation sequencing.

"We are now able to conduct next generation sequencing from anywhere on the planet with a device small enough to fit in your backpack," explained Gary Crispell, a microbiologist at the PHC-P EMBL at Camp Zama. "These tools have only been around for a few years, but are being rapidly adopted for the scientific research community."

"By being on that cutting edge of science having the most up-to-date equipment, having SMEs [subject matter experts] in the field, and a bioinformatics technician, we will have the possibility to protect all DOD personnel throughout the region by identifying diseases or health risks before they become a problem," added Eads.

Moving forwards, the team will lay the groundwork for a fully standardized vector surveillance program that the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command can use before key exercises to keep service members safe and healthy.

To learn more about the PHC-P entomology program, visit their webpage.

You also may be interested in...

Air Force Advisory Squadron Medics Strengthen Capabilities of Allies, Partners

Article Around MHS
9/28/2022
Military personnel conduct trauma training

Medical capabilities within mobility support advisory squadrons are foundational to security cooperation activities that strengthen national defense and strategic relationships. An MSAS has 60 air advisors, including a flight nurse, an independent duty medical technician, and an aeromedical evacuation technician.

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Partners

NAMI Recompression Chamber Supports Area Training Missions, Operations

Article Around MHS
8/29/2022
Military personnel demos compression chamber

Scuba diving can be extremely dangerous, and it’s possible for divers to develop adverse medical conditions and injuries while performing underwater operations. A common diving injury is decompression sickness (DCS), also referred to as the “bends”.

Recommended Content:

Public Health

Bulgarian Armed Forces Demonstrate Combat Medical Advancements

Article
8/22/2022
Two medics tend to a dummy in a simulated emergency.

Bulgarian Armed Forces showed off their combat lifesaving training to a U.S. delegation Aug. 10.

Recommended Content:

Education & Training | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Global Health Engagement

NY Army Guard Army Reserve Medical, Veterinary, Personnel Team Up with South Africans Military to Provide Care in Rural Villages

Article Around MHS
8/18/2022
Military medical personnel examine a patient

Fifteen U.S. Soldiers, including five from the New York Army National Guard, provided medical care to about 3,000 South African villagers in the Richards Bay area, along the eastern coast of South Africa, 100 miles northeast of Durban, during a medical readiness exercise in July.

Recommended Content:

Veterinary Service | Global Health Engagement | Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief

U.S. Army Expands Medical Interoperability with Polish Allies

Article
8/18/2022
Military personnel in K( casualty care briefing

On July 27th, the U.S. Army Europe and Africa Command Surgeon, Brig. Gen. Clinton Murray, and Polish Surgeon General, Dr. Aurelia Ostrowska, signed a landmark Combat Medicine Interoperability Memorandum of Agreement.

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Building Partner Capacity and Interoperability

Taking the stings out of summer fun

Article
8/15/2022
Beekeeper in protective gear holds framework with bees and honey..

What you should know and do about bee, wasp, and hornet stings

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Summer Safety | Public Health

What You Need to Know About Monkeypox

Article
8/5/2022
A human hand with sores

Monkeypox is rare. Here’s how to protect yourself and your family and when to contact a medical provider.

Recommended Content:

Monkeypox | Public Health

Monkeypox Declared Public Health Emergency: What Airmen and Guardians Need to Know

Article Around MHS
8/4/2022
Microscopic view of monkeypox virus

The World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency on July 23. With more than 4,000 cases in the United States, Airmen and Guardians should know the risks and how to stay safe.

Recommended Content:

Monkeypox | Public Health

Corpsman Care during Atlantic Ocean ops on MSC ship

Article Around MHS
8/4/2022
Military medical personnel performing emergency surgery

There’s a reason why U.S. Navy independent duty corpsmen are found assigned on isolated platforms from the wide expanse of the Indo-Pacific Theater to the far reaches of the Atlantic Ocean.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Global Health Engagement

US and Multinational Participants Visit Georgian Rehabilitation Center and Meet Ukrainian Families

Article Around MHS
7/15/2022
Military personnel accepting award

Multinational participants visit the Georgian Rehabilitation Center to not only observe Georgian rehabilitation processes and systems, but also to deepen alliances with Georgian civilian medical counterparts and witness the positive impact on Ukrainian families.

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Building Partner Capacity and Interoperability | Psychological Fitness | Social Fitness

DHA Leads NATO's Historical Medical Interoperability Exercise

Article
7/15/2022
Officers watch a presentation in a room.

The Defense Health Agency collaborated with NATO and partner organizations for CWIX 2022 held in Poland, 6-24 June.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Global Health Engagement | Building Partner Capacity and Interoperability

Dental Health Aboard USS Tripoli

Article Around MHS
7/14/2022
Military dental personnel working on a patient

The USS Tripoli is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and maintain stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Dental Health | Global Health Engagement

Army Experts: Rabies Risk is Not Worth It

Article
7/5/2022
Army Experts: Rabies Risk is Not Worth It

Almost 60,000 people around the world die from rabies each year. Despite the common belief that rabid animals are easily identified by foaming at the mouth and aggressive behavior, infected animals may not look sick or act strangely.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health | Rabies

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 07 - July 2022

Report
7/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Surveillance trends for SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory pathogens among U.S. Military Health System Beneficiaries, Sept. 27, 2020 – Oct. 2,2021; Establishment of SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance within the MHS during March 1 – Dec. 31 2020; Suicide behavior among heterosexual, lesbian/gay, and bisexual active component service members in the U.S. Armed Forces; Brief report: Phase I results using the Virtual Pooled Registry Cancer Linkage system (VPR-CLS) for military cancer surveillance.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

31 MDG Bolsters Relationships with Local Healthcare Facilities

Article Around MHS
6/28/2022
Military personnel at training lab

The 31st Medical Group hosted an Open House event to foster new relationships and strengthen bonds previously formed with local Italian healthcare facilities and network providers, June 9, 2022, at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 33
Refine your search
Last Updated: March 10, 2021
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery