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NEWS | Sept. 9, 2016

Avoiding Bloodsuckers

By Airman 1st Class Miguel Buenaflor 628th Aerospace Medicine Squadron

The term “bloodsuckers” may evoke the mental image of vampires, but they are not the only creatures who need to suck blood in order to sustain life. Female mosquitoes survive by feeding predominantly on blood, while male mosquitoes survive by feeding on flower nectar and sweet juices. After a mosquito bite, most experience red bumps and itching, which is the result of an allergic reaction to mosquito saliva.

Mosquitoes are one of summer’s biggest annoyances. Between the itching, welts and health fears, it’s easy to understand why this insect tops the list. Of the 3,500 species of mosquitoes, 61 exist in South Carolina. Mosquitoes can carry harmful viruses and parasites causing diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, malaria, West Nile virus, yellow fever and Zika. 


The 628th Medical Group’s Public Health Flight and the 628th Civil Engineer Pest Management Office work together to monitor and reduce mosquito populations. Public Health Flight uses a series of surveillance tools to capture mosquitoes. The staff systematically segregates male from female mosquitoes and samples are sent to the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM) for testing. The USAFSAM analyzes the mosquitoes for the presence diseases and sends a detailed report to Public Health.  


Performing the following steps protects you and your family from mosquito bites: eliminate mosquito breeding grounds, treat water that can’t be drained, wear insect repellent or protective clothing.


Taking steps to get rid of and preventing standing water is important because mosquitoes breed in cool, dark and damp areas. When water cannot be drained, larvicides are an alternative for mosquito control. Using insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin or IR3535 is an effective way to protect you and your family while enjoying the outdoors. Additionally, wearing light colored clothes treated with Permethrin can also repel mosquitoes.


Please take a moment to review the mosquito control infographic. If you have any questions, contact Public Health at 963-6962.