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HomeNewsFort Campbell 86th Combat Support Hospital Soldiers eliminate unseen threats in Gbediah

Fort Campbell 86th Combat Support Hospital Soldiers eliminate unseen threats in Gbediah

By Sgt. Matthew Britton, 27th Public Affairs Detachment

United States Africa CommandMonrovia, Liberia – Ebola may be the reason why U.S. service members have come to Liberia’s aid, but it’s far from the only health concern. Malaria, yellow and dengue fever are among a long list of diseases, viruses and parasites that can threaten troops’ health. Temperature checks, hand washing stations and ensuring service members have taken their anti-malaria medication aren’t the only lines of defense against these microscopic dangers.

A part of this defense consists of preventative medicine Soldiers from the 61st Preventative Medicine Detachment, 86th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. As part of the Joint Forces Command – United Assistance, they support the U.S. Agency for International Development-led mission, Operation United Assistance, by controlling and eliminating health risks in the JFC area of operations.

Maj. Benjamin Qi, commander, 61st Preventative Medicine Detachment, 86th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Campbell, Ky., sprays insecticide around the area where a health clinic is currently being built in Gbediah, Liberia. Operation United Assistance is a Department of Defense operation in Liberia to provide logistics, training and engineering support to U.S. Agency for International Development-led efforts to contain the Ebola virus outbreak in western Africa. (Sgt. Matt Britton/U.S. Army)
Maj. Benjamin Qi, commander, 61st Preventative Medicine Detachment, 86th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Campbell, Ky., sprays insecticide around the area where a health clinic is currently being built in Gbediah, Liberia. Operation United Assistance is a Department of Defense operation in Liberia to provide logistics, training and engineering support to U.S. Agency for International Development-led efforts to contain the Ebola virus outbreak in western Africa. (Sgt. Matt Britton/U.S. Army)

The preventative medicine team went to Gbediah, Liberia, December 15th, to assess diseases in the area and spray insecticide around a health care facility currently being built by U.S. and Liberian service members.

“We get out there and take care of all of the environmental factors that contribute to diseases and non battle injuries,” said Capt. Scott Mueller, executive officer, 61st Preventative Medicine Detachment. “We go out to these sites and do vector and pest control. We’ll spray insecticide and put out rodent traps.”

Pfc. Garrett Perlinger, preventative medicine specialist, 61st Preventative Medicine Detachment, 86th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Campbell, Ky., pours water into a solution of insecticide to spray around the area where a health clinic is currently being built in Gbediah, Liberia. This control measure is used by the preventative medicine team to protect the U.S. and Liberian service members building the facility from various diseases, viruses and pathogens that insects carry here. (Sgt. Matt Britton/U.S. Army)
Pfc. Garrett Perlinger, preventative medicine specialist, 61st Preventative Medicine Detachment, 86th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Campbell, Ky., pours water into a solution of insecticide to spray around the area where a health clinic is currently being built in Gbediah, Liberia. This control measure is used by the preventative medicine team to protect the U.S. and Liberian service members building the facility from various diseases, viruses and pathogens that insects carry here. (Sgt. Matt Britton/U.S. Army)

Mueller said his unit also uses various other measures to ensure the safety of those working in these locations.

“We take surveillance and control measures,” said Mueller. “We collect mosquitoes and send them back to public health command to test for pathogens and viruses. If we know there’s threats in the area that can get Soldiers sick, we go in and take care of the problem.”

Capt. Scott Mueller, left, executive officer, 61st Preventative Medicine Detachment, 86th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Campbell, Ky., and Pfc. Garrett Perlinger, right, preventative medicine specialist, also with 61st Preventative Medicine Detachment, start up a motorized sprayer in preparation to spray insecticide around the area where a health clinic is currently being built in Gbediah, Liberia (Sgt. Matt Britton/U.S. Army)
Capt. Scott Mueller, left, executive officer, 61st Preventative Medicine Detachment, 86th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Campbell, Ky., and Pfc. Garrett Perlinger, right, preventative medicine specialist, also with 61st Preventative Medicine Detachment, start up a motorized sprayer in preparation to spray insecticide  (Sgt. Matt Britton/U.S. Army)

Health risks are involved in every deployment and sometimes service members get sick after returning home. The environmental samples that preventative medicine Soldiers collect, can help troops receive the medical attention they need down the road.

“There’s a lot of diseases here, so we have to seal every gap and make sure these guys are protected not only now, but also when they get home,” said Maj. Benjamin Qi, commander, 61st Preventative Medicine Detachmentt. “We collect soil, water and air samples and send them back to DoD labs. They test them and put the information in their database. So if a Soldier has health issues relating to this deployment, they can get the information for their doctors from this system. It’ll help them receive medical treatment they need.”

Capt. Scott Mueller, executive officer, 61st Preventative Medicine Detachment, 86th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Campbell, Ky., sprays insecticide around the tents of engineers currently building a health clinic in Gbediah, Liberia (Sgt. Matt Britton/U.S. Army)
Capt. Scott Mueller, executive officer, 61st Preventative Medicine Detachment, 86th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Campbell, Ky., sprays insecticide around the tents of engineers currently building a health clinic in Gbediah, Liberia (Sgt. Matt Britton/U.S. Army)
Pfc. Garret Perlinger, preventative medicine specialist, 61st Preventative Medicine Detachment, 86th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Campbell, Ky., sprays insecticide around the area where a health clinic is currently being built in Gbediah, Liberia (Sgt. Matt Britton/U.S. Army)
Pfc. Garret Perlinger, preventative medicine specialist, 61st Preventative Medicine Detachment, 86th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Campbell, Ky., sprays insecticide around the area where a health clinic is currently being built (Sgt. Matt Britton/U.S. Army)

So far, the disease rate has been low for service members supporting OUA. The preventative medicine team said they’re glad the measures in place are working and troops are following the safety guidelines.

“It’s been great to see Soldiers pretty much across the line have been taking their Malarone and using their bed nets” said Mueller. “They seem well aware that there are vector threats out here that can get them sick other than Malaria and yellow fever. That’s probably the primary thing that’s keeping Soldiers safe and from getting sick during this deployment.”

 

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