Friday, December 16, 2011

Insect Trap Protects Deployed Soldiers

Navy Medicine Support Command (NMSC) in Jacksonville (Florida) announced Dec. 14 that an entomologist assigned to the premier U.S. Navy facility dedicated to ensuring military forces' readiness through reducing the risk of insect-transmitted diseases developed a fly trap now available for worldwide purchase.

Navy Entomology Center of Excellence (NECE) Operational Assessment Department's Lt. Joseph Diclaro developed the Florida Fly Baiter, a device designed to trap filth flies, which can mechanically transmit 100 known disease-causing pathogens. The trap is being commercially released by Killgerm, a British-based chemical company.

Diclaro, who conceptualized the trap while pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Florida through the Navy's Entomology In-service Procurement Program (IPP), said his initial study of neurological and behavioral responses of house flies to reflective coloring led to the design of the trap, something he said works two ways.

"The color of the trap visually attracts them [flies] from a distance," he said. "Once in close proximity to a trap, a chemical lure brings them into the device, where they can be eliminated [through chemical exposure or entrapment]."

Diclaro said his studies found that house flies were attracted to a blue background with black lines, a significant finding because previous schools of thought indicated yellow was a more attractive color to the insects.

Based on his research, Diclaro designed the trap and performed field studies to fine tune its workings.

"Prototypes were tested over several years," he said. "The various designs were evaluated for (effectiveness) outdoors near dumpsters, in residential areas and livestock farms as well as indoors in restaurants and a snake farm."

After proving the concept and finalizing the design, the UF Science and Technology Department applied for and was awarded a provisional patent. Killgerm later purchased licensure agreements to produce and sell the traps, a recognition Diclaro said represents his research, the teamwork the UF Science and Technology Department and NECE share, and the success of the Navy's doctoral program for medical entomology.

"Because NECE is the only command in the DoD [Department of Defense] that solely focuses on vector control, it was fitting to continue my research here," said Diclaro. "After reporting to NECE, I was able perform evaluations to fine tune its design."

The Florida Fly Baiter received attention within the DoD after NECE Assistant Officer-in-Charge Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Stancil petitioned the Armed Forces Pest Management Board (AFPMB) to assign a National Stock Number (NSN) to the device, something that would make the trap available throughout the U.S. Armed Forces. The AFPMB equipment committee voted unanimously in favor of assigning the NSN and allowing the device to be easily procured by service members.

Diclaro, who served as a hospital corpsman (radiological technologist) before commissioning, said the relatively fast commercialization of his concept also underscored the success of the Deployed War-fighter Protection Program (DWFP), a multi-million dollar DoD initiative with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect deployed war-fighters from disease-carrying insects.

The DWFP focuses on new chemistries and formulations of public health insecticides, better products for personal protection and more efficient public health insecticide application technology. NECE serves as the DoD lead agency responsible for facilitating and participating in collaborations associated with the DWFP and is the only DoD agency whose mission is dedicated to operational entomology, providing expertise on military vector control equipment, techniques and procedures.

"The Florida Fly Baiter is a tremendous example of how DWFP facilitates the development of ideas leading to commercialization of tools that, in this case, benefits both the DoD and the private sector," said NECE Officer-in-Charge Cmdr. Eric Hoffman. "Often a nuisance and potentially medically important pest, filth flies present a control challenge particularly in a deployed setting. The Florida Fly Baiter has been proven, through testing and evaluation, to be the most effective filth fly trap currently available and a welcome addition. Assignment of an NSN, adding the product to our toolbox, will clearly benefit our deployed customers."

The Navy Entomology Center for Excellence, an echelon five command reporting to the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) in Portsmouth, Va., supports global contingency operations by supplying medical entomologists and preventive medicine technicians, participating in disaster relief operations to minimize the risk of vector-borne disease to U.S. personnel as well as to those impacted civilian populations and participates in humanitarian assistance initiatives as well as maintaining an involvement in the President's Malaria Initiative, a program to reduce deaths caused by malaria in sub-Saharan African countries.

The NMCPHC reports to Navy Medicine Support Command, which is part of the Navy Medicine team, a global healthcare network of 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide high quality health care to more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.