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ACU with permethrin: New policy allows profiles for pregnant Soldiers

Published: April 3, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 3, 2014) -- Female Soldiers who are trying to become pregnant, are pregnant or are post-partum and nursing now have the option to wear Army Combat Uniforms without permethrin, the insect repellent ACUs are treated with, where the probability of insect-borne diseases is low.

The Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization advocate the use of permethrin-treated clothing to protect individuals who may be exposed to insect-borne diseases. The WHO guidance even applies to pregnant women and children, however, female Soldiers who wish to wear a non-treated ACU may request to do so through their primary care manager.

In order to be exempt from wearing permethrin-treated uniforms, Soldiers must see their PCM at Lyster Army Health Clinic to obtain a temporary medical profile that exempts them from wearing the treated uniforms.

“Female Soldiers can see their PCM for the temporary profile, however, if the Soldier’s commander deems it necessary to wear the ACU Permethrin to protect a Soldier’s health and medical readiness, then those orders supersede the PCM’s orders,” said Capt. Melissa Riester, chief of environmental science and engineering at LAHC.

Commanders may deem the ACU Permethrin necessary in order to support mission or training requirements that would increase the risk of exposure to insect-borne hazards while in deployed or non-combat environments, such as field training, Riester explained.

“In cases where a Soldier is at a greater risk of contracting insect-borne diseases (such as Lyme disease) it is better to wear the ACU Permethrin than risk contracting such a disease while pregnant,” she said.

Family members can also protect themselves this summer by wearing permethrin-treated clothing and using mosquito repellants with 20-30 percent DEET on exposed skin.

Families can also help reduce mosquito and tick populations around the house by making sure outdoor items like wading pools, flower pots and lawn ornaments are free of standing water. Eliminating standing water around the home reduces the number of breeding sites for disease-carrying mosquitoes. To reduce tick populations around a home and garden, keep tall grass and low brush trimmed. These simple steps will help keep you safe from pests and increase everyone’s enjoyment of outdoor activities.

For those going camping or who know they will be walking through dense brush, it is also important to check for ticks, Riester said, adding covering exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and hats helps ward off both mosquitoes and ticks.

“Ticks prefer the low brush next to hiking trails and running paths, so stick to groomed paths and sidewalks as much as possible,” Riester said. “One of the best ways to check for ticks is to use the buddy system and have a Family member or friend help check arms, legs and your back.”

Pets are also prone to pick up ticks when they go outside, however it is not safe to spray your pet with human insect repellent. DEET is toxic to animals and they are at risk if they ingest it through licking their fur. It is most important to note that some pet insect repellents are not safe for both cats and dogs. For a list of recommended pet insect repellents, contact Fort Rucker’s Veterinary office at 255-9061.

“As the weather gets warmer, and people head outdoors for camping, hiking, boating and fishing, it is important that they remember to apply insect repellent every few hours to ensure they are not bitten,” Riester said. “We love seeing our patients, but we’d rather see them enjoying their summer than inside the clinic with a tick or mosquito-related health issue.”

This article was originally published at

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