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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Bite Protection Evaluation of United States Army Uniforms: Uniform Fabrics Supplied by Propper

Location: Mosquito and Fly Research

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Determine the ability of experimental U.S. Army uniform fabrics to retain permethrin and prevent insect bites.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
This research will be conducted using the “bite protection” assay developed by MFRU/CMAVE to establish the level at which permethrin-treated U.S. Army combat uniform fabrics prevent mosquito bites. The bite protection assay will be conducted on treated fabric by using human volunteers in an Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved study protocol. Volunteers wear sewn sleeves of the uniform material to test if the garment prevents mosquito bites in a laboratory assay. The results will be compared to an untreated control sleeve to determine the benefit of permethrin repellent as a function of the percentage reduction in bites compared to the control. Tests are conducted with uniform fabric that is treated prior to laundering, treated fabric washed 20 times and treated fabric washed 50 times. The 50 wash end point constitutes the expected lifetime of the uniform as a function of numbers of launderings. Studies are intended to be tested against multiple strains of mosquitoes to determine if the strain affects the outcome of the experiments. The final report is used by the United States Army to determine if a uniform supplier is meeting their specifications.

3. Progress Report:
This work directly relates to inhouse objective 2. Develop new application methods for pesticides to biting Nematocera that minimize environmental exposure and that optimize lethal or repellent effect, including presentation on clothing, aerosol application in or outdoors, residual application, disinsection of aircraft, and delivery of spatially repellent compounds. Research efforts of the Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center and ARS Researchers at Gainesville, FL in the Mosquito and Fly Research Unit (MFRU) led to qualification of Propper, International to supply the US Army with permethrin-treated U.S. Army Combat Uniforms (ACUs) and U.S. Army Fire Resistant Army Combat Uniforms, type III (FRACU-III) with Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OCP). ACUs are constructed of 50% nylon / 50% cotton fibers. The bite protection levels of these factory-treated uniforms were very high (99-100% protection) even after uniforms had been washed through 50 cycles. The more durable FRACU-III with OCP was also evaluated after permethrin impregnation at the factory level. These uniforms provided at least 75% bite protection through 50 wash cycles. Progress is monitored and documented by reports issued to Natick at the completion of experiments and reporting of research results at international and national meetings and at committee meetings held at the Armed Forces Pest Management Board. An annual meeting to discuss annual research plans is held at the Natick Soldier Center at the start of each calendar year. Subordinate meetings on permethrin-treated uniforms are held during semi-annual meetings of the Armed Forces Pest Management Board on the campus of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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