Home Stories How the U.S. navy fights the world’s deadliest animal

How the U.S. navy fights the world’s deadliest animal

Probably the most harmful foe U.S. troopers might have ever encountered is the mosquito, which has triggered extra casualties than bombs or bullets in the course of the nation’s conflicts.

One of many first navy expenditures by the Continental Congress was $300 for quinine to guard Basic George Washington’s troops from malaria. Through the Civil Conflict, there have been over 1,000,000 circumstances of malaria in Union troops alone. In World Conflict II, there have been almost 700,000 circumstances of malaria. In Vietnam, 50,000 circumstances. And extra lately, of all of the American troopers deployed in Afghanistan, one out of each 20 of them battled malaria.

Discovering methods to guard troopers from the mosquito—the world’s deadliest animal—is a prime precedence on the U.S. Division of Protection’s Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR).


I count on most individuals have by no means heard about WRAIR—or, if they’ve, they might be complicated it with the extra acquainted however separate establishment, the Walter Reed Nationwide Navy Medical Heart, the place U.S. presidents go to wounded troops and go for medical remedy.

It’s too unhealthy extra individuals don’t know in regards to the work being achieved at WRAIR. Since its founding in 1893, WRAIR has been a world analysis chief into new malaria medicine, mosquito management, and extra lately, vaccines, to guard individuals from mosquito-borne ailments. This analysis advantages the lives of not solely American troopers, but additionally billions of individuals residing in areas the place mosquito-borne ailments are a risk. That’s why our basis collaborates with WRAIR on a variety of analysis tasks in malaria and different ailments that endanger the lives of individuals residing in a few of the world’s poorest areas.

Right here’s one in every of many unbelievable info that talk to WRAIR prominence in malaria analysis: WRAIR has contributed to the invention and improvement of all FDA-approved malaria medicine, together with primaquine, mefloquine, atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone), tafenoquine, and doxycycline. Should you’ve ever traveled to an space the place malaria is prevalent you’ve most likely been prescribed one in every of these medicine for cover. And due to the unfold of malaria drug resistance, WRAIR continues to discover new medicine to remain one step forward of this risk.

WRAIR, in partnership with the Smithsonian Institute, additionally manages the world’s largest mosquito collection, which at present has greater than 1.7 million specimens. A few of the oldest had been collected by Walter Reed, the Military main who helped uncover that yellow fever is transmitted by mosquitoes. WRAIR is called in his honor.

This massive mosquito assortment permits WRAIR researchers to “know their enemy,” by giving them a deep understanding of the large number of mosquito species that populate the globe to allow them to mount the simplest defenses in opposition to them.

The primary line of protection for troopers is their clothes and WRAIR has developed uniforms handled with pesticides to guard them. Then, there are mosquito nets and varied repellents, together with ones that double as camouflage paint.

Extremely efficient vaccines in opposition to malaria and different mosquito-borne illness are additionally a precedence at WRAIR. WRAIR developed the first-ever malaria vaccine together with GlaxoSmithKline. Researchers at WRAIR additionally led the event of a Zika vaccine.

One of the shocking and necessary areas of analysis at WRAIR are the human malaria an infection problem trials. As a part of this program, WRAIR recruits volunteers who comply with be bitten by malaria-infected mosquitoes, exposing themselves to a curable type of the illness to check the effectiveness of varied interventions. This may sound scary, however the trials are extraordinarily secure. The volunteers are rigorously monitored and are shortly cured earlier than they turn out to be too unwell. Within the final 30 years, WRAIR has carried out over 100 trials on over 2,200 volunteers. Due to this analysis, WRAIR has tremendously accelerated the event of experimental vaccines and malaria medicine.

What’s most fun at WRAIR is the analysis that can assist us all put together for the threats of the long run, together with local weather change, which is able to enhance the unfold of mosquito-borne ailments.

As Col. Brian Evans, WRAIR’s chief entomologist, says, “The problem is all the time evolving and the function of WRAIR is to maintain up with that, to remain forward of the sport.”

Due to their unbelievable work for greater than 125 years, WRAIR has achieved simply that.

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