Bug Awareness Week is an annual public health campaign held from June 10 to 17, aimed at raising awareness about the potential risks associated with insect-related transmissible diseases. Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in collaboration with the Department of Defense stakeholders and the National Institutes of Health, leads the initiative to educate individuals about the dangers posed by vectors such as mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. This blog post highlights the importance of bug awareness and provides preventive measures to stay safe from insect-borne illnesses.
An Educational and Fun Event: To kick off Bug Awareness Week, the National Museum of Health and Medicine is hosting Bugapalooza, a free, family-friendly event on June 10 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Bugapalooza offers visitors an opportunity to explore various bug-related topics. Attendees can learn about bizarre bugs, beneficial insects, and the ones that can be harmful. The event also provides insights into combating bugs or utilizing them to our advantage.
The Legacy of Walter Reed:
Bug Awareness Week is named after U.S. Army physician Maj. (Dr.) Walter Reed, who conducted groundbreaking research in the early 1900s. Dr. Reed’s team confirmed that yellow fever, previously associated with abdominal pain and kidney malfunction, was caused by a particular mosquito species. This discovery revolutionized epidemiology and biomedicine, laying the foundation for future advancements.
Preventing Bug-Borne Illnesses:
Insect-borne diseases can affect anyone, especially in tropical or austere environments. The Defense Health Agency emphasizes the importance of protecting oneself from diseases like malaria, West Nile virus, Zika virus, Dengue virus, and more. Here are some preventive measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
- Check Your Destination: Before traveling, check the CDC Destinations pages to understand the health risks at your destination and determine if any vaccines or medicines are necessary.
- Preventing Bug Bites:
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing active ingredients like DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. Apply them after sunscreen.
- Dress in clothing that covers arms and legs, and use mosquito netting to cover strollers and baby carriers.
- Follow label instructions and avoid applying repellents to children’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin.
- For additional protection, treat clothing and gear with 0.5% permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items. Permethrin repels and kills insects like mosquitoes and sandflies.
- Keeping Mosquitoes at Bay: If staying in a hotel or lodging without air conditioning or screens, use mosquito nets for protection. Choose accommodations with air conditioning or screened windows and doors whenever possible.
- Preventing Tick Bites:
- Be cautious in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas where ticks reside, even in your own yard.
- Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents, and avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
- Perform regular tick checks on your body, clothing, and pets after outdoor activities. Showering within two hours of coming indoors can help remove unattached ticks.