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News | Sept. 28, 2013

MEDEL hosts experiments at JTF-Bravo

By U.S. Army Sergeant Courtney Kreft Medical Element

Joint Task Force- Bravo's Medical Element (MEDEL) worked with the Honduran Ministry of Health and the United States Army Public Health Command Region South to test the operability of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved enteric testing kits in an extreme environment during their visit to Honduras from Sept 24-26.

"These tests would not be used for individuals," said Dr. Miguel Quintana U.S. Army Public Health Command Region South. "We are doing this for the public health aspect to determine if there was an outbreak if they could be used in environments that has more extreme temperatures and humidity than what is suggested on the packaging."

"Six different FDA approved tests were used to test for four different pathogens and there were some very positive results with the test for Giardia and Cryptosporidium, which had a 91percent success rate," he added. "The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) tests that were used could not be accurately read in the extreme environments because of the temperature and/or the humidity."

The Honduran Ministry of Health collected and froze the samples for testing over a period of weeks in preparation for Dr. Quintana's visit. The testing starting out in a lab in Tegucigalpa to see how the tests would work, and then the team moved to Soto Cano Air Base to see how they would react in the 88 degree weather with 65 percent humidity.

"This study was funded by Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System (GEIS), which focuses on the surveillance efforts of diseases to service members stationed overseas," said Quintana. "The relationship between MEDEL, U.S. Army Public Health Command and the Honduran Ministry of Health has grown with the help of GEIS and the studies conducted on malaria and dengue fever."