Exposure to mosquito-borne infections discussed at MHSRS
Air Force Capt. David Lindholm, of the San Antonio Military Medical Center, highlights the dangers of mosquito-borne illnesses at the Military Health System Research Symposium in Orlando, Florida.
IN November 2015, a resident of Cameron County, Texas, was infected with the chikungunya virus. Unlike previously reported cases of chikungunya among Texas residents, who were traveling when they were infected, this was the first case where someone who had not traveled anywhere was infected. Chikungunya is a disease with no known cure, so treatment is focused on reliving the symptoms which include nausea, fatigue and muscle pain. Cases of dengue also have been occurring in the United States, particularly in Hawaii and the Texas-Mexico border.
At the Military Health System Research Symposium (MHSRS) in Orlando, Florida, Air Force Capt. David Lindholm, of the San Antonio Military Medical Center discussed how this disease and other mosquito-borne illnesses have become considerable health threats.
“Based on recent study, chikungunya and dengue have become the most common mosquito-borne infections among returning travelers, particularly those who have been to the Caribbean and Latin America,” said Lindholm. “Because of increased global military operations, service members, and sometimes their families, have become more at risk to being exposed to these recent outbreaks. The incidence of dengue has grown significantly in recent decades, with half the world’s population being at risk.”
Lindholm stated that while the military is working on a vaccine for some of these viral infections, the first line of defense against mosquito-borne infections is to avoid being bitten by a mosquito. “Keep your surroundings clean and avoiding places where there may be standing water,” said Lindholm.
James Karesh, an eye surgeon with the Vision Centers of Excellence, also expressed similar concern at the MHSRS conference. “As we all know, mosquitoes are in the news because of Zika, but there are many other diseases mosquitoes carry,” he said. “There are more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes, and of that number only 175 carry diseases, one of these [diseases] is dengue, which can cause blindness. The West Nile virus is as harmful to one’s vision as Zika. Mosquitoes live everywhere on the globe, except for Iceland and Antarctica, so it’s very important we become more aware of the threat to our vision and overall well-being these insects present.”