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Insectary aids research.

THE insectary at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland painstakingly breeds tens of thousands of insects every week.

The institute breeds aedes, anopheles and culex mosquitoes used in research toward development of repellents, drugs and vaccines to protect service members from such diseases as dengue fever, malaria and encephalitis.

The Defense Department has about a dozen insectaries around the globe; however, WRAIR's, established in 2000, is one of the largest and most elaborate, said COL Daniel Strickman, chief of its entomology department.

Infected mosquitoes--kept under lock and key to protect employees--are used in human-volunteer studies to test the effectiveness of drugs and vaccines.

Female mosquitoes are used in experiments; males are simply studs. But before they'll breed, female mosquitoes need a blood meal, which comes in from the belly of anesthetized hamsters. The female mosquitoes then mate and lay eggs.

The lab's weekly demand of aedes aegypti mosquitoes alone is roughly 4,000.

Because troops are deployed to Southwest Asia, where leishmaniasis-carrying sand flies flourish, the insectary's expertise with the phlebotomine family is being tapped. Lab researchers have been able to determine that 1.5 percent of the sand flies in Southwest Asia test positive for leishmaniasis.

Visceral leishmaniasis, which affects the spleen and liver, can take months to develop, and is considered fatal if left untreated. For this reason, military health providers need to know what to look for and how to treat it.

Lab data alert commanders to potential health risks to their soldiers, and help ensure precautions--such as treating tents, spraying pesticides and stressing to soldiers the importance of using insect repellent--are taken to prevent disease.--Karen Fleming-Michael, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command Public Affairs Office

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Title Annotation:Tech notes: what's new in equipment and technology; insectary at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research
Author:Fleming-Michael, Karen
Publication:Soldiers Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Words:286
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