In the past two summers there have been 2,723 tick related incidents reported and ticks collected during Cadet Summer Training. Cadets are in the field for two weeks of their training and outdoors for a majority of their time spent at Fort Knox. This makes them highly susceptible to ticks bites, chiggers, mosquitos, fleas and lice.
The DoD Insect Repellent System and permethrin treatment of uniforms is now being enforced in hopes to decrease these types of incident. This is a safe and proven method to reduce disease and the annoyance of insects.
The system is made up of four main parts; Using DEET or Picaridin on skin, treating uniforms with permethrin, wearing the uniform properly and treating all other necessary equipment with permethrin spray.
Using all elements of this system will provide maximum protection and prevent Cadets from attacks of disease carrying insects.
“We’ve seen a lot of incidents in this area, and we are hoping with now supporting the treatment of uniforms it’ll help protect Cadets more adequately. This summer I am guessing we will have a little over 1,000 cases, but I don’t think we will have as many problems as we’ve seen in previous years,” Cpt. Taylor Hirschey, Officer-in-Charge Environmental Health, said.
Before training kicks off and the cadre and Cadets head into the field, they are now required to spray permethrin on their Army Combat Uniform, non-standard uniforms, socks, boots, fabric helmet covers, mosquito netting, sleeping bags, ruck sacks, exteriors of tents, and other cloth gear.
Permethrin is a fabric treatment that should be reapplied every six weeks or six washings. Cadets must wear gloves and eye protection when spraying their equipment. Once the chemical binds to the fabric fibers and dries, it then becomes stable and no longer poses any health hazards. For protection of exposed skin Cadets are given DEET or Picaridin bug spray.
“About 84 percent of ticks from 2014 and 2015 have been Lone Star ticks, 16 percent were American Dog ticks, and less then 1 percent were deer ticks,” Hirschey said. “About 4 percent of the ticks collected tested positive for pathogens. The Lone Star tick was the only tick that tested positive for some form of ehrlichiosis.”
If a Cadet has a tick attached to them they are instructed to see a medic right away to get the tick removed properly. It is then placed in a vial, and the Cadets have to fill out paper work before the tick is sent off to a lab to be checked for pathogens. If the test result comes back positive, then the Cadet is notified for further medical attention, if necessary.