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Protecting Our Troops From Insect-Borne Diseases

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Infectious diseases caused by the bites of blood-sucking mosquitoes, sand flies, and ticks have felled many in the U.S. military, but ARS is now helping to protect our troops overseas by developing repellent treatments for military clothing.

The U.S. Marine Corps determined that when one of our Marines is infected with malaria, a potentially fatal disease, the medical treatment costs U.S. taxpayers about $18,000. ARS scientists developed permethrin (an insecticide) as a clothing treatment specifically to protect military personnel. They also conducted studies showing that permethrin-treated uniforms exhibited a high level of protection throughout the entire lifetime of the uniform. Permethrin-treated clothing is also available now to civilians.

ARS researchers also developed use of etofenprox, a chemical compound, for a larger range of fabrics. The compound is the first new repellent registered to treat uniforms and other material since permethrin was developed in 1991.

Related Information

Article: USDA Pest Management Program Targets Virus-transmitting Mosquitoes