Mosquitoes put a bite into Holloman

HOLLOMAN AFB, NM -- As Airmen do their daily activities outdoors, whether it is their job, jogging to keep fit or playing a sport outside for fun, they are relentlessly being attacked by flying menaces: mosquitoes. 

The enormous amount of mosquitoes the area is experiencing is due to the many areas of standing water, said Mr. Paul Balajadia, 49th Civil Engineer Squadron, entomology. The rain has saturated the ground. 

"Holloman has received just less than 12 inches of rain this year, when our normal average is about 10 inches," said Tech. Sgt. Mike Louridas, 49th Operation Support Squadron, combat weather. "The rain has come down in a relatively short amount of time, from July to the present. We can expect anywhere from two to five more inches of rain, possibly more, through October, when the monsoon season ends." 

Many precautions can be taken to help repel and avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and also reducing their breeding sites. 

The most effective protection is products containing diethyl toluamide (DEET) or permethrin. 

"Apply insect repellent to exposed skin when outdoors," said Tech. Sgt. Kristina Harper, 49th Aeromedical Dental Squadron, public health. "Also, spray clothing with insect repellent since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing." 

Sergeant Harper also advises to stay indoors at dawn, dusk and early evening, which are peak mosquito-biting times. 

To reduce the number of breeding sites on base, residents can contribute. Airmen can keep the grass of their on-base housing mowed and also clean out pet dishes, flower pots, bird baths and rain gutters every couple of days to avoid standing water. 

The base is also doing its part to help prevent the pests. The first place the Entomology Shop is fighting off the mosquitoes is in the permanent standing water around base, said Maj. Nathan Clemmer, 49 CES. Permanent standing water is where mosquito larva start their life. These areas are treated with larvicide and monitored weekly for progress. 

"Larvicide is one of the most effective methods of mosquito control since it is isolated in the water and continues to offer protection for 30 to 120 days," Major Clemmer said.
Other areas with temporary standing water are monitored until they dry up. 

The second battle entomology is fighting is against the adult mosquitoes. They are doing this by mosquito fogging on a nightly basis, said Major Clemmer. 

"The fog kills any unlucky mosquitoes in the area upon contact," he said. "But it does not have any residual effect." 

So, why are mosquitoes so bad? Not only do they bite and leave itchy red bumps over the body, they can also transmit West Nile Virus and other diseases, said Sergeant Harper. 

"West Nile Virus is a flavivirus commonly found in Africa, West Asia and the Middle East," she said. "The virus can infect humans, birds, mosquitoes, horses and other mammals." 

The main route of human infection of WNV is through the bite of an infected mosquito, she said. Symptoms of WNV include fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, occasionally a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands. Illness can be as short as a few days up to several weeks. 

Rarely, an infected person can develop more severe forms of WNV, said Sergeant Harper. There is not a specific treatment for WNV, however, people with the more severe forms may need to be hospitalized. 

WNV is not transmitted from person-to-person contact, however, a very small portion of cases have been identified as being contracted through transplanted organs and blood transfusion, she said. 

The 49 CES and many base residence are doing what they can to prevent the growth of the tiny pests and return Holloman back into being The Friendliest Place on Earth.