Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

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...

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 6 - June 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Incidence of Campylobacter intestinal infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016; Incidence of nontyphoidal Salmonella intestinal infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016; Incidence of Shigella intestinal infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016; Using records of diagnoses from healthcare encounters and laboratory test results to estimate the incidence of norovirus infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016: limitations to this approach; Incidence of Escherichia coli intestinal infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016; Surveillance snapshot: Annual incidence rates and monthly distribution of cases of gastrointestinal infection, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 7 - July 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Skin and soft tissue infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2013–2016; Age-period-cohort analysis of colorectal cancer, service members aged 20–59 years, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 1997–2016; Incidence of gastrointestinal infections among U.S. active component service members stationed in the U.S. compared to U.S civilians, 2012–2014; Brief report: Laboratory characterization of noroviruses identified in specimens from Military Health System beneficiaries during an outbreak in Germany, 2016–2017; Surveillance snapshot: Norovirus outbreaks among military forces, 2008–2016.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 1 - January 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Malaria, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016; Diabetes mellitus, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2008–2015 introduction of the virus in the Western Hemisphere, 1 January 2016; Rates of Chlamydia trachomatis infections across the deployment cycle, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2008–2015; Brief report: Selected demographic and service characteristics of the U.S. Armed Forces, active and reserve components, 2001, 2009, and 2016.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 10 - October 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella among service members and other beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2010-2016; Update: Cold weather injuries, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2012-June 2017; Surveillance snapshot: Influenza vaccine effectiveness, U.S. European Command, as estimated by the Department of Defense Global, Laboratory-Based Influenza Surveillance Program, 2016-2017 influenza season; Surveillance snapshot: Influenza immunization among U.S. Armed Forces healthcare workers, August 2012-April 2017

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 11 - November 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Pregnancies and live births, active component service women, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012–2016; Contraception among active component service women, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012–2016; Complications and care related to pregnancy, labor, and delivery among active component service women, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012–2016; Incidence and burden of gynecologic disorders, active component service women, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012–2016; Department of Defense Birth and Infant Health Registry: select reproductive health outcomes, 2003–2014

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 2 - February 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Incident diagnoses of leishmaniasis, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001–2016; Incidence rates of malignant melanoma in relation to years of military service, overall and in selected military occupational groups, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001–2015; Medical evacuations, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2013–2015.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 5 - May 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Viral hepatitis A, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016; Viral hepatitis B, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016; Viral hepatitis C, U.S. military service members and beneficiaries, 2008–2016; Brief report: Tinea pedis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000–2016; and Surveillance snapshot: Respiratory infections resulting in hospitalization, U.S. Air Force recruits, October 2010–February 2017.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 3 - March 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Diagnoses of traumatic brain injury not clearly associated with deployment, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001–2016; Update: Heat illness, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016; Update: Exertional rhabdomyolysis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012–2016; Update: Exertional hyponatremia, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001–2016.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 9 - September 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Review of the U.S. military's human immunodeficiency virus program: a legacy of progress and a future of promise; Update: Routine screening for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus, civilian applicants for U.S. military service and U.S. Armed Forces, active and reserve components, January 2012–June 2017; Sexually transmitted infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016; Brief report: Use of ICD-10 code A51.31 (condyloma latum) for identifying cases of secondary syphilis

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 8 - August 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Multiple sclerosis among service members of the active and reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces and among other beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2007–2016; Challenges with diagnosing and investigating suspected active tuberculosis disease in military trainees; Brief report: Mid-season influenza vaccine effectiveness estimates for the 2016–2017 influenza season

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 4 - April 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016; Hospitalizations, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016; Ambulatory visits, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, reserve component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, recruit trainees, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, non-service member beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2016.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Study Finds Strong Immune Response to HPV Vaccine Among Female Service Members

Report
5/11/2016

A new study of female service members that examined their immune response to a vaccine to combat the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer showed development of antibodies in 80 to 99 percent of recipients against each of the four strains of the disease.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division | Public Health | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

MSMR Vol. 23 No. 6 - June 2016

Report
1/1/2016

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Identification of specific activities associated with fall-related injuries, active component, U.S. Army, 2011; Incidence and recent trends in functional gastrointestinal disorders, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2005–2014.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 23 No. 7 - July 2016

Report
1/1/2016

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Increasing severity of traumatic brain injury is associated with an increased risk of subsequent headache or migraine: a retrospective cohort study of U.S. active duty service members, 2006–2015; Use of complementary health approaches at military treatment facilities, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010–2015; Incident diagnoses of cancers in the active component and cancer-related deaths in the active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2005–2014.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 23 No. 5 - May 2016

Report
1/1/2016

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Post-refractive surgery complications and eye disease, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2005–2014; Update: Urinary stones, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2011–2015; Surveillance snapshot: Zika virus infection among Military Health System beneficiaries following introduction of the virus into the Western Hemisphere, 20 May 2016; Surveillance snapshot: Department of Defense Global, Laboratory-Based Influenza Surveillance Program, 2014–2015 season.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 61 - 75 Page 5 of 20
Refine your search
Last Updated: March 10, 2021

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.