A major part of the efforts by Fort Meade public health and environmental experts has been the work of a young entomologist assigned to Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center.Pfc. Kyle Gothe combines his training as a preventive medicine specialist and his natural inclination to be outdoors with the tasks on trapping, identifying and preparing mosquitoes for research and analysis. Public health experts at the Public Health Center examine Gothe's specimens.Preventive medicine specialists are primarily responsible for conducting or assisting with preventive medicine inspections, surveys and preventive medicine laboratory procedures. They also supervise preventive medicine facilities or serve on preventive medicine staffs.Environmental Work“I enjoy being outside, and this issue allows me to work in that environment and help address a serious health concern,” Gothe said. “Fort Meade is small enough that it's easy to get out there, but large enough to have this job to do.”Along with the Directorate of Public Works' Environmental Division, Goethe helped devise and implement Fort Meade's mosquito surveillance and trapping plan to ensure the mosquitoes that have been identified as carriers of the Zika virus were not in the mosquito population on the installation.“Through partnering with Corvias — and they have done a wonderful job in helping to educate and spur Fort Meade residents — we have been able to reduce the places where mosquitoes naturally gravitate to lay eggs,” Gothe said. “Our surveillance and trapping, using several different types of traps, have consistently told us that none of the mosquito species that can carry the Zika virus are resident at this installation.“We originally started with collecting eggs for analysis and progressed to luring, trapping and identifying female mosquitoes for analysis and typing. The female of the species is the only sex of mosquito capable of carrying the virus,” he said.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention early on identified Zika as a virus spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters, but can also bite at night.The CDC cites evidence that Zika virus can also be spread through as blood transfusion and from mother to child during pregnancy. There is also evidence that the Zika virus can be sexually transmitted by a Zika virus-infected man to his partner.Gothe explained that through surveillance, trapping and identification efforts, along with “the great support of the people of Fort Meade,” the moderate risk to the Fort Meade population is minimal.He emphasized that taking care of individual safety is still important and includes using protective equipment (long sleeves, insect repellent and avoiding mosquito hot spots).In addition, because Zika, or any mosquito-borne disease, can be transmitted if people don't protect themselves, everyone should remember that the virus can also be introduced through intimate contact with a traveler. “The risk will remain minimal as long as people are taking care of themselves and policing their environment by reducing areas where mosquitoes can reproduce,” Gothe said.