Public health flight protects the Pack

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Maria Umanzor Guzman
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 8th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron public health flight has begun proactively preparing Kunsan Air Base as mosquito season approaches.

Under the 8th Medical Group, the 8th OMRS is responsible for providing specialty care to base personnel. The 8th OMRS has various responsibilities, from handling sanitation issues to addressing occupational health matters. Additionally, it plays an essential role in preparing the 8th Fighter Wing for pest-related challenges, especially during mosquito season.

“As mosquito season starts approaching, we typically start our initial mosquito trapping between April and May, depending on the weather patterns,” said Maj. Tanviben Patel, 8th OMRS public health officer. “Once we begin to have more rain and the temperature is above 70 degrees, it’s the optimal season for mosquitos.”

According to Patel, the public health flight utilizes both a carbon dioxide light trap and a gravid trap, a battery-powered trap that creates an upward current of air; both of which attract female mosquitoes.

“Specifically, female mosquitoes can bite humans and can carry various diseases, such as malaria, Dengue fever, and Chikungunya virus,” said Patel. “They can transmit those diseases, which can be detrimental to our population and cause hospitalization.”

Patel said that CO2 light traps and gravid traps are set up around certain locations all across the base. These traps are then collected after 24 hours and frozen to separate the female mosquitoes for laboratory testing.

“After separating them, we collect the specific numbers we have of female mosquitos and inform our entomology shop of the statistics,” said Patel. “Depending on the statistics and the diseases identified during their testing, the entomology shop will begin their fogging process. Their fogging process is when they spray pesticides in the air to kill the mosquito population, reducing the spread of transmitted diseases on base.”

While the public health flight focuses on addressing concerns during mosquito breeding season, base personnel are advised to engage in preventative measures against them as well.

“Wearing long sleeve clothing and mosquito repellent is essential, especially going hiking in the woods or going in grassy areas,” said Patel. “The mosquito population is most active during dawn and dusk hours.”

While the Wolf Pack can implement these preventive measures, it's also vital for base personnel to understand the accurate information and resources that are available during mosquito season.

“It’s important for base residents to be aware of the possible diseases mosquitoes may carry so that they are also aware of why service members get certain vaccines, such as the Japanese encephalitis vaccine,” said Senior Airman Alexis Jimenez, 8th OMRS public health technician.

Another way that the flight ensures proper patient treatment is through the Travel Medicine program.

“With the Travel Medicine program, depending on where the patient is traveling and the common diseases there, public health will give recommendations to the doctor to prescribe patients medication they might need,” said Jimenez.

With their helpful resources and expertise, the public health flight remains dedicated to disease prevention within the Wolf Pack, enhancing global health for a better tomorrow.