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J Med Entomol. 2006 Jul;43(4):647-62.

Impact of phlebotomine sand flies on U.S. Military operations at Tallil Air Base, Iraq: 1. background, military situation, and development of a "Leishmaniasis Control Program".

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  • 1520th Theater Army Medical Laboratory, United States Army, Tallil Air Base, Iraq.


One of the most significant modern day efforts to prevent and control an arthropod-borne disease during a military deployment occurred when a team of U.S. military entomologists led efforts to characterize, prevent, and control leishmaniasis at Tallil Air Base (TAB), Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Soon after arriving at TAB on 22 March 2003, military entomologists determined that 1) high numbers of sand flies were present at TAB, 2) individual soldiers were receiving many sand fly bites in a single night, and 3) Leishmania parasites were present in 1.5% of the female sand flies as determined using a real-time (fluorogenic) Leishmania-generic polymerase chain reaction assay. The rapid determination that leishmaniasis was a specific threat in this area allowed for the establishment of a comprehensive Leishmaniasis Control Program (LCP) over 5 mo before the first case of leishmaniasis was confirmed in a U.S. soldier deployed to Iraq. The LCP had four components: 1) risk assessment, 2) enhancement of use of personal protective measures by all personnel at TAB, 3) vector and reservoir control, and 4) education of military personnel about sand flies and leishmaniasis. The establishment of the LCP at TAB before the onset of any human disease conclusively demonstrated that entomologists can play a critical role during military deployments.

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