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Arthropods and other Animals of medical importance

Poor sanitation and improper waste disposal under wartime conditions greatly increase the disease vector potential of such common pests as filth flies and rodents.


Poor sanitation and improper waste disposal under wartime conditions greatly increase the disease vector potential of such common pests as filth flies and rodents. Even in mobile field situations these “camp followers” have historically amplified sanitation problems, often resulting in epidemics of diarrheal diseases that have caused many casualties. This threat is even greater in urban areas converted to temporary or semipermanent military use. A dangerous temptation in field training or in deployment operations is to ignore the field sanitation standards. Some people think, “The rules don’t apply here.” Yielding to that temptation can cost your health and the health of those around you. There is no excuse for forgetting to bring protective equipment or failing to use it. Be sure to follow all safety precautions on all labels of the pesticides that you use. They are there for a reason – to protect your health.


The concurrent use of a skin insect repellent (N, N-diethyl-M-toluamide [DEET], NSN 6840-01-284-3982) and a clothing insect repellent (permethrin [NSN 6840-01-278-1336 and 6840-01-345-0237]) is necessary to obtain maximum protection against insects/arthropods.


  • Apply DEET insect repellent to all exposed skin.
  • Follow label directions.
  • Apply a light, even coating to exposed skin, not under clothing.
  • DO NOT apply to the eyes and lips, or to damaged skin.
  • One application may last 8 to 12 hours; if you receive bites, reapply a light uniform coating of repellent.
  • Application of DEET can be safely used with camouflage face paint. Apply a thin layer of DEET first, then apply face paint.

NOTE: Reapplication of DEET may be necessary (check container label) due to heavy sweating, or after river-crossing operations, exposure to rain, or in locations where arthropod density is very high.


  • Permethrin is the most effective clothing repellent available.
  • Treat military field uniforms, including Nomex�/Kevlar uniforms, tent liners, ground cloths, and bed nets with permethrin. This should be done before wearing in field training or military operations. Follow label instructions when applying to clothing.
  • Permethrin will remain in the material after repeated washings.
  • Treated uniforms can be safely worn in the rain or when crossing rivers or streams.

NOTE Permethrin does not rinse out in cold water (or rain or streams).

  • DO NOT apply directly to skin, to underwear, or to cap.
  • DO NOT wear treated uniforms unless they are first thoroughly dried after treating.
  • Apply permethrin outdoors or in well-ventilated areas only.
  • Wear uniform as your commander directs.
  • Wear a loose fitting uniform, not tightly tailored, to prevent arthropods from biting through the fabric; repair tears/holes.
  • When the arthropod threat is high:
  • Blouse pants in boots and completely lace boots.
  • Tuck undershirt in at waist.
  • Wear sleeves down.
  • Button blouse/shirt at the neck and wrist.
  • Do not use aftershave lotion, cologne, or perfumed deodorants or soaps in the field; they attract arthropods.
  • Wear headgear (cap, helmet, arthropod head net) when necessary to protect your head.


  • Bathe every day if possible, or at least once a week. Good personal hygiene practices reduce infestation of insects such as body lice and mites.
  • Wash your uniform frequently (a minimum of every 7 days) to remove arthropods and their eggs which may be attached to the uniform. If the situation permits, use the quartermaster laundry; otherwise, use a stream, lake, or washbasin. Air-dry uniforms, especially underwear and socks, if possible.


  • Take medications that help prevent diseases (such as anti-malaria pills) when directed by your commander.
  • Use medications, such as cream/shampoo, when prescribed by medical personnel for treatment of lice, chiggers, poison ivy, and so forth.


  • Ensure your bed net is in good repair.
  • Use your bed net when sleeping.
  • Tuck net under sleeping pad or sleeping bag so there are no openings.
  • Follow the label directions and precautions when using DOD-approved insect spray (for example, Insecticide, Aerosol d-PHENOTHRIN, 2%) if insects are present inside the bed net (and inside closed tent). Allow vapors to disperse for 10 minutes before entering the enclosure.
  • Treat bed net with permethrin for added protection.
  • Repair holes in your bed net. Generously apply DEET skin repellent to those areas likely to touch the insect net during sleep (knees, hands, elbows, and feet) to prevent bites through holes in the fabric.


Spiders, Scorpions, and Centipedes:

  • Remove spiders from tents or buildings.
  • Shake out and inspect clothing, shoes, and bedding before use.
  • Eliminate collections of papers, unused boxes, scrap lumber, and metal.
  • Thoroughly clean beneath and behind large items; spiders and scorpions may be resting in these areas.
  • Check field latrines before use; run a small stick under the rim of the latrine hole to dislodge any spiders or scorpions there. Spiders and scorpions may rest under toilet seat or inside latrine box.
  • Wear gloves when handling paper, cloth, lumber, or other items that have been stored for long periods.
  • Check around rocks and logs before resting against them.
  • Use a long-handled tool or stick to turn over debris before removing it.
  • Remove accumulations of boards, rocks, and other debris to eliminate the resting/ hiding areas of spiders and scorpions.
  • Wear leather gloves to remove rocks, lumber, and such from the ground.

NOTE: In many locations worldwide, centipedes are more of a problem than scorpions, but the PMM are the same for both pests.


  • Do not handle, play with, or disturb snakes or other wildlife.
  • Avoid swimming in areas where snakes abound.
  • Keep hands off rock ledges where snakes may be hiding or sunning.
  • Look over the area before sitting down, especially if in deep grass or among rocks.
  • If snakes are known to inhabit the area, sleep off the ground, if possible.
  • If military situation permits, avoid walking about an area during the period from dusk to complete daylight, as many snakes are active during this period.
  • Avoid camping near piles of brush, rocks, or other debris.
  • Never step over large rocks or logs without first checking to see what is on the other side.
  • Turn rocks and logs toward you when they have to be removed so you will be shielded should snakes be beneath them.
  • Handle freshly killed snakes only with a long-handled tool or stick; snakes can inflict fatal bites by reflex action after their death.

NOTE: If bitten, try to kill the snake and bring its head with you to the medical treatment facility. If you cannot bring the snake’s head with you, get an accurate description of the snake to assist medical personnel in treating you. DO NOT panic!


  • Do not handle or approach so-called “pets.”
  • Exclude such animals from your work and living areas, unless cleared by veterinary personnel.
  • Do not collect or support (feed or shelter) stray or domestic animals/birds in the unit area, unless cleared by veterinary personnel.

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