Military uniforms to protect from mosquito bites

January 2nd, 2009 - 11:56 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 2 (IANS) Uniforms issued to US military personnel are now being treated to repel mosquitoes, thanks to a new method developed by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).Since 1991, treatment of military uniforms with the insecticide permethrin has been available to help protect troops from mosquitoes that transmit malaria and dengue.

This method is a valuable addition to the protection provided by insect repellents, but it is a challenge to be sure that the many kinds of fabrics and uniforms are adequately treated.

Chemist Ulrich Bernier at the ARS Mosquito and Fly Research Unit, part of the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, Florida, developed a new insect bite protection efficacy assessment that has been adopted by US Marine Corps (USMC).

His new methodology requires assessment of multiple uniform fabric specimens on four human volunteers and against two species of mosquitoes before the uniforms are accepted for production and distribution to military personnel.

The precise results gained from this method provide the military with information on how well the uniform will protect and prevent deployed personnel from receiving insect bites.

This methodology is currently applicable only to the military and is used to ascertain each uniform manufacturer’s ability to provide uniforms that will protect troops from mosquito bites.

To prevent mosquito bites, uniforms must be properly treated with permethrin. Otherwise, the repellent action will be lost when the uniforms are washed, said an ARS release.

The USMC found that newly introduced permanent press uniforms were not retaining effective amounts of permethrin. To solve this problem, the USMC focussed on ways to improve permethrin retention by changing the treatment process and the type of chemical binders used.

Bernier’s methodology was necessary because there was no manufacturing standard by which to evaluate mosquito protection afforded by the uniforms.

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