1st Class Doug Sample
Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Pentagon is, once again, advising
servicemembers that flea and tick collars work great on pets, but not
And officials at the Armed Forces Pest Management Board (AFPMB)
said good-intentioned citizens and family members should not include
the collars in care packages to troops.
Responding to reports that people as well as organizations are
sending pet collars to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Army Maj.
Dwight Rickard, contingency liaison officer for the board, said an
AFPMB memorandum issued in early April warns of the dangers involved.
"The fact that some organizations with good intentions
were doing this concerned us," Rickard said.
"But the fact is that flea and tick collars are not
approved for humans and in fact are quite detrimental to the skin.
Our skin is different from that of dogs, and the pesticides
tend to burn our skin," he explained.
There is also potential to absorb pesticides into the skin,
which "as you can imagine, is not healthy," he added.
Flea and tick collars contain the pesticides organophosphates,
carbamates, pyrethroids and organochloride.
The Environmental Protection Agency states these chemicals may
produce adverse effects and they have not been tested for human use.
Back in September 1990, the Army's Health Services Command had
released a message warning that prolonged exposure to the collars
could produce toxic effects in humans.
Shortly thereafter, post and base exchange stores put up signs
to warn of the dangers.
In 1999, the Rand Corp., a research firm, surveyed thousands of
Persian Gulf War veterans on their use of pesticides in that war as
the Defense Department searched for
links to illnesses in Gulf War veterans.
The survey did not provide definite evidence of a link to Gulf
War illness, but a number of veterans had reported using pet
and tick collars to protect themselves against insects.
From the survey data, about 3 percent of Army and Marine
Corps/Navy personnel and about 1 percent of Air Force personnel among
the almost 470,000 serving in the Gulf are estimated to have used
animal flea and tick collars. The
survey stated that most veterans who used flea collars wore them over
their clothes or shoes, which helped minimize exposure to the active
However, Rickard said the best way to protect against fleas and
ticks is to use measures found in AFPMB Technical Guide-36, entitled
"Personal Protective Measures Against Insects."
The guide describes Department of Defense's (DoD)
insect repellant system and other techniques to ward off flea,
tick and chigger attack.
Rickard emphasized that the collars work very well on dogs, but
hardly at all on humans.
"If you put them on a humans, the fleas and ticks won't go
near the collar, but they will go everywhere else," he said.
To learn more
about the DoD insect repellant system, visit the pest management
board's Web site at http://www.afpmb.org.
For more information about military medical issues at Fort
McCoy, call the Troop Medical Clinic at (608) 388-3025.