Koreans Fumigate in Nasiriyah

19 Jun 2003 | Army Sgt. Troy Chatwin

The families in An Nasiriyah, Iraq endured some of the most intense battles of Operation Iraqi Freedom there were between the Coalition Forces and the Iraqi troops. They continue to experience another battle, one they have been waging for years - a battle against communicable diseases spread by local insects.

Working hand-in-hand with doctors from the local Primary Health Care Department, the Communicable Diseases team of the Republic of Korea's 320th Medical Support Group is fumigating the densely populated neighborhoods of Nasiriyah.

"The point is to kill as many sand flies, mosquitoes and various small insects that are dangerous to humans," said Capt. Kyung-Soon Lee, the veterinarian leading the team. "The main diseases we fight are leishmaniasis [black fever] and malaria," added Lee. "These are the most dangerous diseases to humans."

According to Dr. Hydar Ali from the Nasiriyah Primary Health Care Department there were 844 cases of leishmaniasis reported in the area last year.

"The Iraqi people appreciate help with the mosquitoes because they disturb the people's sleep at night," Ali explained.

A liquid form of the chemical known as Vectron (Etofenoprox) is used to fog neighborhoods for three consecutive days. This is sprayed from the back of a truck which drives slowly through the wide boulevards and narrow back streets.

"This provides maximum efficacy and will decrease the density of the sand flies," reported Ali.

With a population estimated at 500,000 people, the Korean medical unit is not able to fog the entire city of Nasiriyah.

"Because we cannot fog the whole city, we do the part of the city associated with our other medical activity," said 1st Lt. Eugene Seo, a medical officer who assists with the program.

The medical teams of the Korean 320th MSG also operate a Medical Civil Assistance Program in two Nasiriyah neighborhoods where basic treatment and aid is provided to local citizens.

"The Iraqi people understand what we are doing," said Seo. "They invite us into their house and say here? here."