Personal Protective Measures Against Insects

and Other Arthropods of Military Significance


This Technical Guide (TG) provides preventive medicine (PVNTMED) information and guidance to Department of Defense (DoD) personnel who may come into contact with nuisance or disease-carrying arthropods (disease vectors), or who are responsible for protecting the health of personnel. It describes the DoD Insect Repellent System and other techniques that provide maximum, safe protection from arthropod attack. These techniques include the use of protective clothing and equipment, repellents, pesticides, and other strategies. This AFPMB TG is based on, and supercedes, U.S. Army Environmental Hygiene Agency (USAEHA) Technical Guide (TG) No. 174, and Personal Protective Techniques Against Insects and Other Arthropods of Military Significance, June 1991, and the Armed Forces Pest Management Board’s (AFPMB) TIM No. 36, Personal Protective Techniques Against Insects and Other Arthropods of Military Significance, August 1996 version.


a. Historically, in every war and military conflict, combat power has been reduced more significantly by disease and non-battle injuries (DNBI) than from direct combat casualties. A large number of diseases affecting the troop strength of deployed units is directly attributed to disease-carrying arthropods. Moreover, arthropods can inflict severe physical, psychological, and economic stresses that threaten the military mission. Not only do they transmit disease, but the bites they inflict can be painfully distracting and can lead to devastating secondary infections, dermatitis, or allergic reactions. Further, contamination of food and damage to other commodities are costly.

b. History is replete with examples of how arthropod-borne diseases have significantly impacted military operations.7,9,13,43

(1) In 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia with 422,000 men. Within three months, seven of every ten soldiers had fallen to epidemic louse-borne typhus, leaving a force of only 100,000. Cold injuries completed the devastation of the disease-weakened force, and by the time Napoleon's Grande Armée retreated out of Russia only 10,000 remained. Dysentary and pneumonia joined with typhus to further reduce the force to fewer than 3,000 living troops.

(2) On the American front, in General George Washington's Continental Army, ten Americans died of diseases for every one who died in battle. In the War of 1812, General Andrew Jackson's victory at the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815 was immediately followed by the death of most of the surviving American and British troops from mosquito-borne malaria. During the Civil War, there was a 2:1 ratio in deaths from disease versus combat. In 1898, Army disease casualties included 90,416 cases of malaria, 1,169 cases of yellow fever and 249 cases of dengue fever, with respective fatality rates of 4, 123, and 8 per 1,000 cases.

(3) During World War I, the ratio of deaths from disease versus combat in U.S. troops improved to 1:1, but there were still 16,930 cases of malaria. During World War II, it is estimated that over 24,000,000 man-days were lost to arthropod-borne diseases. An entire regiment was rendered ineffective by scrub typhus. Dengue fever reached a high of 28,292 cases in the Southwest Pacific with 52 cases per 1,000 troops per year. An outbreak of dengue in the New Hebrides in 1943 affected 26 percent of U.S. forces (more than 6,000 personnel). During the Korean War, U.S. Army forces suffered more than 30,000 cases of malaria, and hundreds of Americans were hospitalized during a 1951 epidemic of Korean hemorrhagic fever. During the Vietnam War, diseases accounted for unheralded annual rates of 56 to 74 percent of all U.S. Army hospital admissions. From 1965 through 1970, the Army lost 2,000,000 man-days to malaria alone. Units operating in the Ia Drang Valley in 1965 reported an annual malaria rate of 600 cases per 1,000 troops, which rendered two entire battalions ineffective for a time. Annual epidemics of Japanese encephalitis were also devastating.

(4) In 1993, over 200 cases of malaria were reported among U.S. military personnel who served in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope. Dengue virus infections occurred in military personnel stationed in Haiti as part of Operation Uphold Democracy in 1994, and cases of leishmaniasis were an outcome of military operations in Central and South America, and the Middle East in the 1990s.

(5) In the United States, tick-borne infections such as Lyme disease continue to take a toll on troops training in areas of the Southeast, Northeast, and upper midwest, while newly emerging infections such as the human ehrlichioses are now posing further hazards. Nuisance arthropod bites and the diseases they transmit will continue to be a serious threat to troops in training and in combat.


Armed Forces Pest Management Board
Technical Guide No. 36
Defense Pest Management Information Analysis Center
Forest Glen Section, Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Washington, DC 20307-5001

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